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Centre lacrosse student paralyzed, community rallies

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Posted at 6:45 PM, Oct 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-19 19:14:34-04

DANVILLE, Ky. (LEX 18) — Centre College lacrosse player Britt O'Brien was paralyzed in August when he dove into the shallow end of a pool, which he thought was much deeper, and hit his head.

"When I was under the water, I thought that was it," Britt recalled about the incident which occurred during a long weekend with friends and lacrosse teammates outside Atlanta.

But his good friend Ian Hubbs wasn't going to let that happen. He saved Britt's life by pulling him out of the water.

"I grabbed him by his arms, had his head on my chest and he's looking up at me and he's like, 'Ian, I can't feel my legs,'" Hubbs said.

Britt suffered a spinal cord injury with a compression fracture of his C5 vertebrae.

He was airlifted to Grady Hospital in Atlanta and underwent surgery.

He was eventually moved to the Shephard Center, which is a world-renowned spinal cord rehab hospital.

"I was sitting in ICU," his mother, Kristen O'Brien, said during an interview with LEX18 Tuesday morning. "Britt was very sick. We almost lost him."

"I was just sitting there one day looking at this and I was like it's got all these little beads and they were put together by hand and could fall apart at any minute and that's how we've felt like everything is falling apart but that it can be put back together with hard work and effort," she said looking down at her Kendra Scott bracelet.

The bracelet is part of a colorful line of jewelry called "Britt".

"They released it on August 5th and he got hurt on August 7th," she said.

And that, she says, was no coincidence.

"Something that we have kind of started calling God winks," she said. "Things that happen and continue to happen that are not an accident and that was the first big God wink."

Another God wink? Britt's progress. She said doctors said Britt had a 3-7% chance of ever moving his body again.

"I was like yeah, that's not happening," Britt laughed. "I mean both arms have a full range of motion now."

He's worked incredibly hard to get to this point, and he has endless support behind him.

Friends, family, and members of the community have cheered him on, and it's raised his spirits.

"He's had a way better attitude than I ever would have hoped," Britt's father, Tim, said.

More support is coming from the jewelry store, Kendra Scott, this weekend.

It created the Britt line, and this weekend 20% of all sales at their Lexington, Lousiville, and Atlanta stores will go to Britt and his recovery.

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It's a recovery Britt said, that will end with him walking out of the hospital.

"That's the biggest goal," he said. "To walk out of this place."