BR men who suffered spinal injuries offer encouragement to Devon Gales

BR men who suffered spinal injuries offer encouragement to Devon Gales
Shedrick Cummings (Source: WAFB)
Shedrick Cummings (Source: WAFB)
Chico Garcia (Source: WAFB)
Chico Garcia (Source: WAFB)
Devon Gales (Source: Southern University)
Devon Gales (Source: Southern University)
Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A scary moment on the football field means a Southern wide receiver will endure weeks to rehab for just the chance to walk again. The accident hit close to home for a pair of men in Baton Rouge.

Shedrick Cummings uniquely understands the current situation of Southern football player Devon Gales.

Cummings was just 14 years old when he was in an accident on the gridiron at West Feliciana Middle School.

"I saw the guy coming around the corner and my instinct was get it done," Cummings said. "For me being young, it was hard to understand."

A neck and spine injury left him with little movement in his legs. Now 25 years old, Cummings wished to give advice to Gales, who suffered a severe spinal injury during Southern's game against Georgia on Saturday.

He said Gales needs to think like an athlete.

"As long as you push yourself with the same football mentality of 'I got to grind, I got to get this touch down,'" Cummings said.

That is a sentiment echoed by Chico Garcia, a former LSU cheerleader and coach.

"He should ask for goals. 'What should that look like in two-three weeks?' He should try to surpass them. Like anything else his coach would give him," Garcia said.

Four years ago, a boat accident left Garcia paralyzed below the neck. After the accident, he was sent to the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, the same hospital Gales was transferred to Wednesday. Garcia called the hospital the best possible place for treatment.

"Make sure you get those free massages," he joked.

Both Garcia and Cummings agreed there will be bad days and adjustments.

"You lose a lot of the things that you are able to do by yourself. That can be the biggest down for you, when you lose your independence," Cummings said. "Even in the worst of it all, life will be different, but it won't be over. It still will be there in a different way."

Chico is now starting a new business and Shedrick begins college in the spring. They said it is all about pressing forward even if that requires relying on coach for motivation.

"I can lift this weight for coach. I can sit for coach, or I can do this," Cummings said. "Just keep him the back of your head."

"[Gales is] a role model, whether he knows it or not, for the little kids in the surrounding areas that go watch the Southern Jaguars," Garcia said. "He is a role model for those people."

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