Here’s a great inspiration story about a Gwinnett man who is a Scoop Star!
Keaston White went to school on September 11th, 2001 when his life and the lives of his country were changed forever. The terrorist attacks that occurred on that infamous day shook this country to the core, and it was hard to make sense of everything that was happening. The one thing that makes sense for many young people, that helps bring stability to their lives, is sports. That afternoon the Collins Hill football team still went out to practice and Keaston wanted to work hard for his team.
He lined up at corner back for the first time that afternoon, as he primarily played safety. Keaston described the play to me himself. “We’re out on the field and I had not been starting yet because I had a pulled hamstring almost immediately prior, but they wanted someone to play corner that was fast enough and could hit hard enough, so I was nominated. I laid out a few guys, then that one play the other guy was coming around and I went in and my head went down.”
Keaston doesn’t remember much from that play 12 years ago, but he remembers that on the ride to the hospital he felt like his cleats were still on even though they had been taken off. He felt tightness in his feet. He had fractured his fifth vertebrae and the diagnosis was an incomplete C5 quadriplegic.
After three months in the hospital he went to Shepherd Center. There he did physical therapy and occupational therapy inpatient, and eventually outpatient for a couple weeks. When asked what life was like the months after rehab Keaston explained his struggle. “It was difficult. I had lost a lot of weight. Growing up I was skinny, but I worked extremely hard in 8th grade weight training to put weight on. Beginning of 9th grade I was 195 pounds.” As far as school went, Keaston had to do half over the phone and half in school.
Keaston graduated from Collins Hill High School in the top 10% of his class, and then continued his education at Emory. He studied psychology and was an active member of their theater program. After graduating from Emory in 2008 he went on to attend John Marshall Law School, from where he managed to graduate within three years. He is now working toward being an attorney.
Having a disability can easily turn someone’s outlook on life to something of a bleak nature. For the past 12 years Keaston has been nothing but tenacious in his approach to life. “First off, I have a great support system. My dad has always been a champion for me. Mother was always there pushing me forward,” he explained. “Second, I get depressed moments. I get anxious, but my default is to not stay there. Letting it be your whole life is counterproductive. I don’t have time for it, and I don’t have a use for it.”
Collins Hill retired Keaston’s number shortly after he graduated, but this year they are bringing it back. Coach Reach explained that they wanted to honor Keaston and his drive to work hard. “Ari Benoit is wearing Keaston’s number in his honor this year,” Coach Reach said, “We’re going to have the top player coming out of spring practice get the option to wear the number 6 in honor of Keaston.”
Keaston has been a great example for how to react to diversity, and he has done everything he can to not let it get the best of him. In order to overcome that discrimination, Keaston has put himself in situations that he might not otherwise belong in. But with his determination, Keaston has proven that his spirit can accomplish anything.
Chris Schutter is a Pennsylvania native who has called Suwannee home for the past 15 years. Chris graduated from Collins Hill in 2008 and recently received an undergraduate degree from the University of West Georgia with a degree in Sports Management and has written for Score Atlanta. This is his republished article.