Former Rutgers Football Player Eric LeGrand Uses Tattoos To Tell His Story

By Timothy Downs

On October 16, 2010, Eric LeGrand‘s life changed forever. While playing football for Rutgers, LeGrand was involved in a collision on the field that fractured his C-3 and C-4 vertebrae, leaving him paralyzed from the neck down.

Since the unfortunate incident, LeGrand has shown relentless determination in his rehabilitation process — promising to one day walk again — and continues to charm everyone he comes in contact with by exhibiting an incredibly positive outlook in an extremely difficult situation.

Recently, LeGrand allowed the Wings For Life Foundation into his home to let the world see a side of him only his close family and friends are privy to. Among other things, LeGrand shared his love for tattoos and explained how he uses his body art as a way to tell his story, as they symbolize his strength and philosophy on life.

LeGrand got his first tattoo in high school — an ‘E’ with a crown. Over the years, he’s gotten his last name across the top of his back above a gladiator which symbolizes someone being on top of the world — an image of Jesus on his left arm — as well as the words “Lion Hearted” on his right arm and “Family First” on the inside of his bicep.

There’s a lot of themes and purpose with my tattoos,” LeGrand explains.  “My tattoos paint a picture of my body through the years — my interests, my family, things that matter to me the most.”

LeGrand’s trusted tattoo artist shared a surprising fact about the process,

“The crazy thing about tattooing Eric is that everybody automatically assumes that there’s no pain involved, but his body does register the pain,”  said tattoo artist Paula Lopez.


LeGrand went on to describe the experience,

“It’s crazy the feeling I get as a quadriplegic,” LeGrand explains. “In the beginning I get an immediate rush to my head and it allows me to know something is going on. But as time goes on, it easily settles down until she hits a trigger spot on my body and it twitches.  It’s actually kind of funny to see.”

LeGrand continues to stay busy not only with his own rehabilitation, but also with his foundation ‘Team LeGrand‘ in partnership with the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, which focuses on finding a cure for the condition and works to improve the lives of paralyzed people worldwide.


“Things have been honestly a blessing and the best is yet to come,” says LeGrand.

Using the Wings For Life World Run selfie app, you can help support LeGrand and spinal cord injury research on May 8 in Santa Clarita, Calif. and Sunrise Fla., but you can still participate in your own area using functions on the app.

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