Travis Roy, the former Boston University hockey player who was paralyzed during a game in 1995, has died at 45 years old. Roy died on Thursday following complications from a procedure related to his paralysis.
Roy’s story is one that’s hard to forget: After receiving a number of Division 1 scholarship offers as a promising hockey star, Roy committed to powerhouse program Boston University and managed to make the lineup as a freshman. Then, 11 seconds into his first shift of his first game, he crashed headfirst into the boards. He cracked his fourth vertebra and was left paralyzed from the neck down.
That moment marked the end of Roy’s hockey career — one cut cruelly short at 20 years old — but it also marked the beginning of his incredible work as a philanthropist and inspirational figure. A few years after the accident, Roy established “The Travis Roy Foundation” in order to fund spinal cord research and provide necessary equipment to fellow spinal cord survivors so that they may lead more independent lives.
Over the years, Roy’s foundation has raised millions of dollars to help others who suffered life-altering spinal cord injuries.
Boston University’s athletic department released a statement on Roy’s passing Thursday.
“It is with heavy hearts that we mourn the passing of Travis Roy,” read the statement from BU Athletics. “His story is the epitome of inspiration and courage, and he was a role model and a hero to so many people. Travis’ work and dedication towards helping fellow spinal cord-injury survivors is nothing short of amazing. His legacy will last forever, not just within the Boston University community, but with the countless lives he has impacted across the country. Our sincere thoughts are with his wonderful family as well as his vast support group of friends and colleagues.”
Roy had his No. 24 retired by Boston University in 1997, making him the first player in program history to be honored with a retired jersey number.