O.J. Brigance’s Inspiring Words

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In a widely shared video from the Baltimore Ravens, Coach Jim Harbaugh recounts a recent email he received from former Raven and currently Senior Adviser to Player Engagement O.J. Brigance. The email from O.J. begins with a powerful statement: “We are being formed, shaped and fashioned through the fire of adversity.”

While O.J.’s message was about football, we know that this message is very personal to him as he’s been living with ALS for nearly ten years. And no matter the context, that message is inspirational.

The video and O.J.’s message to the Ravens reminds us of his 2015 testimony in opposition to the physician-assisted suicide legislation before the Maryland General Assembly. In it, O.J. shared a similar message of working through adversity to accomplish amazing things, and why he was compelled to fight for his life despite overwhelming odds against him:

“I felt compelled to testify on this issue because eight years ago I received devastating news that I had ALS. I have personally faced the dilemma debated by the committee this afternoon, whether to live or die with dignity as the proponents of the Bill would call it. Following an accomplished professional athletic career, the thought of losing the ability to run, walk, talk and eventually to breathe on my own was an overbearing burden.”

He continued:

“The prognosis for someone diagnosed with ALS is two to five years from onset. The consideration of the journey which lay before me and my wife was daunting, but once we grieved, we came to the decision that adverse circumstances in no way delete purpose or destiny in one’s life. Have there been days where it has been challenging, of course. However, I did not create my life, so I have no right to negate my life.”

And finally:

“Because I decided to live life the best I could, there has been a ripple effect of goodness in the world. In 2008, my wife and I created the Brigance Brigade Foundation to equip, encourage and empower those living valiantly with ALS. We have been able to assist families in their financial time of need.”

This week, O.J. is celebrating his 47th birthday along with the amazing accomplishment of living a full and active life with ALS for nearly ten years. He, like innumerable others, outlived a terminal diagnosis by years and clearly was not a burden to friends or family. O.J.’s is an inspiring story that more people need to hear. Please share this blog.

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