GUEST POST: Derick Hall has garnered national attention in the football world as a linebacker at Auburn University. This year, he was selected in the second round of the NFL draft to join the Seattle Seahawks. As incredible as it is for any young man to be picked in the NFL draft, Hall’s story is even more unlikely.
Hall, now 22, was born four months prematurely. Delivered at just 23-weeks gestation, he was born dead and revived. He was given a one percent chance of survival by his medical team and overcame many developmental delays and obstacles. Recently, the Seahawks shared a video telling Hall’s life story that is entitled “Derick Hall MIRACLE,” and that description could not be more accurate.
When Hall was born in March of 2001, he was small enough to fit in the palm of his mother’s hand. His mother, Stacy Gooden-Crandle, had to advocate for her son to continue receiving care. She said, “It was a battle…I had to fight every day for my son, because I felt like the doctors weren’t fighting for him.”
Gooden-Crandle was even pressured to sign a form to take him off of life support, because his medical team was ready to give up on him. She recalls, “The doctors made it look so bleak: He’d be a vegetable; he wouldn’t have any quality of life.” Many parents facing a prenatal diagnosis or complex medical challenges in a newborn face similar pressure to withdraw medical care or, in the case of preborn babies, actively end the child’s life through abortion.
It took five months in the NICU for Hall to finally come home. Hall’s grandmother, Bobbi Brown, describes the moment she knew that he would beat the odds. She said, “I stuck my hand in the incubator, and he grabbed it and he held to it. And we knew then that Derrick was going to pull through.” Throughout his time in the hospital, Brown spent many nights by his side. She took comfort in how large his hands were even then. No matter how impossible it seemed to ever grow beyond the crisis of his birth, Brown knew that God had something great planned for her grandson.
Once Derick came home from the hospital, he was still very medically vulnerable and required lots of additional care. Brown said that his extended family came together to care for him, saying simply, “All hands on deck.”
Because he was born so prematurely and suffered a brain bleed, he had significant developmental delays. His breathing struggles developed into asthma that had him in and out of the hospital. Through it all he continued to grow and become stronger. At the age of four, he was first introduced to football and found a way to escape the challenges of life and grow into an athlete.
Derick Hall recognizes how miraculous his life is. He told interviewers, “It’s truly a blessing to be sitting here in front of you today.”
According to Hall, he owes everything to his mother. He said, “My mom is my queen. She is everything to me, how hard she worked raising two kids by herself at first, working two or three jobs. She’s my Superhero. She’s my Wonder Woman. She’s the person who kept me living.”
While raising her children, Hall worked and went to school to give them the best life she could. She said, “I just felt like he deserved a shot, and I had to be the one to give it to him.”
Along with his mother, Hall had a community of extended family and friends who supported him through the years. His mother said, “I always say that Derrick had a great village. These were folks that grew with him. When I needed them, they were there.”
That spirit of community has inspired Hall to give back in very big ways. When his native Gulfport, Mississippi, faced a severe water shortage, Hall paid to have five truckloads of clean drinking water, baby wipes, and essentials brought to the people of his hometown. That will not be the last time that Hall finds a big way to give back. As his grandmother observed, “Just think: If we were to decide not to have him, look what we’d have missed.” Even more than a tremendous football player, the world would have missed out on a beautiful life.
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