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Continued: Fateful collision, and a life revision

  • Article by: CHIP SCOGGINS , Star Tribune
  • Last update: August 15, 2007 - 12:38 AM

"The football field was his home," said Jason Turner, Owens' godfather.

Owens was considered an NFL prospect because of his size, talent and athleticism. That was his dream.

"It's hard not being in the game," he said. "I've been playing football since I was 6 years old. I still love football. I'll never stop loving it."

Robinson, now a running back with the San Francisco 49ers, tried to reach Owens at the hospital after the game, but the two have yet to talk. Robinson asked Penn State officials not to show replays of the hit on either the scoreboard or the school's website. Owens said he would welcome the chance to talk to Robinson.

"I don't have any hard feelings or anything like that," Owens said. "It's part of the game. It was just a freak accident."

Rebuilding his life

People close to Owens worried about him after football was taken away. A quiet person by nature, Owens doesn't often show his emotions. At the time of his injury he also was dealing with the death of his grandmother, Mary Owens, who died in July 2005. Owens, who lived with his grandmother, mother and two sisters growing up, wears a picture of Mary in a locket.

"That wasn't the best year for me," he said.

His daily life changed after the injury. Simple tasks became difficult as he had to learn to do everything with his left hand. He dropped out of school for two semesters because he couldn't write or type and the pain medicine made it difficult to focus.

Some worried that Owens might quit school altogether and return to his home in Florida to be closer to his family, but he said he never considered that option.

"We told him to stay there and get his education," Turner said.

Owens, who remains on scholarship, returned to school and since has learned to type with only his left hand.

"I've got big hands," he said, smiling. "I can do it easily."

Owens hopes to earn his degree in communication studies in either December or next spring. He also is interested in coaching.

For now, Owens said he will continue to do rehab twice a day to increase the range of motion and strength in his arm. He hopes to be able to do "normal things" some day.

"I want to catch a ball or hold a kid," he said.

He still remains close to the team and regularly visits practice. His friends on the team say he's in better spirits these days.

"He's doing the best you can hope for," said senior fullback Justin Valentine, who lives with Owens. "Being around us helps. It's just unfortunate. It could have been any of us."

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