Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Shazier, Narduzzi, Others Show Support for Injured Player

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Shazier, Narduzzi, Others Show Support for Injured Player

Article excerpt

While Laurel High School football player Hayden Hamilton is in the hospital recovering from a spinal injury, some football teams in Lawrence County are honoring him by wearing decals of his jersey number, 26, on their helmets.

And the Steelers' Ryan Shazier, who suffered a spinal cord injury in a December game against the Cincinnati Bengals, dialed Hayden's number a few days ago to try and lift his spirits. Then Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi visited Hayden on Wednesday at UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.

The world of Western Pennsylvania football is coming together and reaching out to help a fallen player.

"Seeing so many people rally around this kid, and to see the love and support he's getting is really something," Laurel coach Brian Cooper said.

The 5-foot-9, 185-pound 15-year-old was a starting sophomore linebacker at Laurel, a small school near New Castle. He was injured while trying to make a tackle in the third quarter of Friday's game against Rochester.

He was taken by medical helicopter to Children's Hospital and underwent surgery for nine hours Saturday. Hayden's mother, Melissa, said Wednesday afternoon that her son is upbeat and making progress. He can move his arms and his hands a little, she said.

"He can now feel where you touch his legs," Ms. Hamilton said. "He hasn't had movement yet in his legs, but things are definitely moving in the right direction."

Mr. Shazier, a linebacker himself, is still recovering from his own injury.

"It was so big to have Ryan call because he had been in this position," Ms. Hamilton said. "He was very inspirational. He told Hayden that people are going to set limits and tell him what they want him to do. But don't let them set the limits. Hayden should set the limits.

"He shared what his mother said after what happened to him last year and how it was going to change everything. …

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