DURHAM — It's been 21/2 years since Rodney Rogers' dirt bike accident left him paralyzed from the shoulders down, but that doesn't stop the Durham native from having hope.
"I'm still hanging on, I still hope that one day I'll be able to walk," said Rogers, who has been in a wheelchair since the Nov. 28, 2008 accident. "It's hard because you have to wait for people to do stuff for you. It's been really tough for me."
And for the 39-year-old former NBA player who retired in 2005, "tough" is an understatement.
Before his accident - during which he hit a ditch and flipped over his handlebars - Rogers worked for the city of Durham as a heavy equipment operator, helped start a youth football team and coached a middle school girls basketball team.
But now, the former Wake Forest basketball player must rely on others to check his ventilator, give him water and get him in and out of bed. Sunday's appearance at the S.J.G. Greater NC ProAm league's championship game marks only the second time he's been out at a community event since his accident, he said.
"The support has been great, and everybody's trying to help support me," said Rogers, who awarded Duke player Ryan Kelly with the Rodney Rogers Spirit Award for sportsmanship before the ProAm championship game. "I'm doing all right right now, just trying to be happy."
Earlier this year, Rogers founded The Rodney Rogers Foundation, a nonprofit organization based in Apex aimed at raising awareness of the difficulties of living with paralysis and providing medical services and relief for people who are paralyzed or in wheelchairs.
"This is just a way for me to stay busy and to give back to the community," he said. "I'm trying to help others, people that are less fortunate and who can't afford medical supplies. I just want to help them out."
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