Adversity affects us all. Whether we like it or not, It really is inevitable. Adversity doesn’t have to be the end. Adversity doesn’t have to stop you in your tracks. The key thing is how you approach the adversity, whether you let it hold you back or whether you use it as fuel to boost you forward. Now of course this is easy to say but can I really do it? Hello, My name is Devon Jackson and I am a Traumatic Brain Injury survivor. Although it doesn’t seem like it , I have endured more than you could ever imagine as a young teenage boy. I’m going to start from the beginning and gradually work my way through. I was raised in a small town called Clewiston, Florida. It is known for its production of sugar nicknamed “ America’s sweetest town.” In a small town you have very few paths you can follow. You can either follow the bandwagon , do drugs, and stand on the corner, or you can do something to keep yourself away from all of the negative influence. I was a HUGE momma’s boy and she pushed me to play baseball but me and someone throwing a ball very close to me doesn’t mix, so I chose Football. In the fourth grade, I started playing football for our local Pop Warner and well let’s just say I was not very good at first. I wasn’t very fast or strong but I fell in love with the sport so I continued playing and improving overtime. I even tried some new sports throughout the process, however my heart stayed with football. In the ninth grade I started my high school football career on junior varsity. I was about 5’8 145 lbs so as you can see I wasn’t the biggest apple in the bunch but I had heart. By the first game, I was starting at safety for our team ahead of someone way bigger than me. I spent 2 years on Junior varsity learning the ropes then finally the time was coming! The spring of my sophomore year I was finally about to be a part of the varsity football team. At that that time I was about 5’9 155 lbs ON VARSITY! How exciting!! However, a huge obstacle came my way. Growing up, my mother was in and out of the hospital. Liver transplant, hip replacement , etc. My mother was even deaf in both ears by the time I was born. A couple of months earlier, my mother had a major back pain. It ended with her being rushed to the hospital in the ambulance then being told it was nothing, given a little pain prescription and sent home. Unfortunately the pain returned about 3 weeks before the start of spring football. She was convinced it was nothing so she just laid in bed and got some rest.I awoke the next morning and followed my daily routine. I woke up while it was still dark, went to school, went to practice, and came home. I was picked up by my mother’s boyfriend, and as we walked in the house, he told my my mom was sleep and has been all day so I went in the room and pick up the game controller. I played till around 7:30p.m. and my mother was still asleep, hence I noticed right away something was not right -- no one sleeps that long. I attempted to wake her up but… what happened next is something I will never forget . I shook her and said “Mom?’ .. she didn’t answer. I said it again. Still no answer. Finally, I rolled her over and her eyes opened and looked directly at mine. She had no bodily movement. I immediately called 911 and the paramedics showed almost instantly. The lifted her onto a gurney and rolled her outside. As they rolled her toward the ambulance her eyes locked with mine and reminding you she could not speak so she let out 3 loud grunts. I took it as an I love you. I went back in the house while her boyfriend followed to our local hospital not knowing that would be the last time that I would ever see her alert and awake again. My oldest sister flew down from Atlanta and my mom was transported to Loxahatchee, Florida to Palms West Hospital for treatment. I continued to go to school while my sisters updated me over text. May 19, 2015 I got a text from my sister Toneita saying “ Just pray little brother. She has a blood infection and they are going to try a blood transfusion to fix it.” I immediately broke down in the middle of class. This is when it slowly started turning into reality. I thought, “ wow! My mother could actually die.” Over time, I cleaned my face up, went to practice, and went home. As I was engaged in my daily gaming session, my mother's boyfriend walked in and said we had to go to Loxahatchee because they thought we should all be there for the blood transfusion. We went over to Palms West hospital and as soon as I walked into my mothers ICU room i walked out crying. I could not even look at her. They performed the blood transfusion and they said they would watch her overnight to see if anything changed so i went home and got some rest while my oldest sister stayed . On May 20, 2015 , about 15 minutes before i was scheduled to get up for school my oldest sister came in my room and laid on top of me. I instantly knew she was gone. I started crying but suddenly stopped. Got ready for school , went to school, and walked into first period. Usually i’m a joking funny guy but today I was dead silent. My teacher asked me what’s wrong and I told him my mother had passed away a couple hours before and the entire class was in shock. Surprisingly, I made it through a full day of school. I had a little breakdown at football practice but I made it through it. Fast forward about 2 weeks after my mother memorial service well my mother’s mother passed away. Oh that’s not the worst part. About a month after my first grandmother’s funeral service my dad’s mother passed away. I know right. All of these obstacles falling in my path and i have to think “ am i gonna slow down and take my time avoiding these or am i gonna hurdle over them and act as if they weren’t even there? Well obviously i chose to act like they weren’t even there if i’m standing in front of you today. Everything started to go smoothly again. My oldest sister moved in my mother’s house in for so me to finish high school in my small town. It was a small town but it was my small town. So Fast forward again and here comes my senior year. I’m on track to graduate with honors and I have a couple of small schools recruiting me for football at the next level. So we play our first 3 games then here comes our fourth game against the Fort Pierce Central Cobras. I got ready just like any other not knowing it would change my life forever. At 5’10 160lbs I was down Playing Outside Linebacker. I was there because of my heart not my size. But as the game went on let’s just say it was an off game I had some goods in the game but the bads out weighed the goods. So i go through the game and take some punishing hits but with the heart I have I continued to fight. When the game ended I got a headache that hurt so bad I started to cry. I fought through it and got on the bus and headed home. My head continued to hurt so I had enough of it. I walked to the front of the bus, asked our defensive coordinator for some pain meds, then fell out on the seat and started to vomit. The driver pulled over, called the paramedics, and eventually I was rushed to Lawnwood medical center in Fort Pierce, Florida. Scans on my brain showed a brain bleed. The bleed was repaired and i was placed in a medication induced coma to recover from the procedure. When i woke up I was in a very confused state. I couldn’t talk at first. My right side was weakened by the accident so I couldn’t even walk. I could barely eat. I couldn’t even go to the bathroom by myself . Do you know how discouraging that is? Once again I fought around my obstacle, and even though I missed the entire first semester of the school year due to recovery and in patient rehabilitation, I fought and graduated with honors on time with 3.52 GPA. Now that you know a little of my story, think about a situation where you faced adversity. Could you have approached it a little better? I like to focus on working through adversity as efficiently as possible. While adversity can be as simple as a a job rejection and as tragic as a death in the family that does not have have to push you too far off track.