SCOTLAND COUNTY, NC (WMBF)- Jaylend Ratcliffe lead his football team onto the field for the first time since his brain injury.
One high school football player is inspiring an entire community. Jaylend Ratcliffe, a senior at Scotland County High School was not only their team captain but already had a full ride to Georgia Tech. Two days before the first football practice Jaylend suffered a brain injury from an A-T-V accident and may not be able to play football ever again.
There's no doubt Friday night's match up against Marlboro County High School was a huge game for Scotland High but the crowd came for a different reason, to watch Jaylend Ratcliffe lead his team on the field after spending a month in the hospital, a place where he was expected to spend several months.
"Even though I'm not playing I wanted to show them I'm still here for them," Ratcliffe said.
Ratcliffe explained he now realizes there's more to life than just being a great football player but is now focusing his attention on healing and becoming a great person. He said that after all, he was supposed to pass away.
"It shows me that I'm a living testimony. It shows me I'm a miracle. It shows me how God works. It shows everybody else how God works. It shows the doctor how God works," Ratcliffe said.
Ratcliffe has not only learned a life lesson so have many around him. When his head coach, Richard Bailey, heard of the accident he admits he questioned his faith and asked why Jaylend. Why him?
"He's going to be a great example of what you can do when you believe and what you can do when you have a lot of people praying for you and when you have a strong work ethic like he does and if he never plays football again he's going to be a great young man," Bailey said.
The bleachers are filled with "2 strong" shirts, representing his jersey number, an overwhelming sea of love and support.
"Thankfully Jaylend is better now but it puts things in perspective to live for today and not think about tomorrow," Bradley Baines said.
Baines is a huge supporter of Jaylend and used to play football with him.
And while his career on the field in uncertain for his senior year, Georgia Tech is still honoring Jaylend's full ride scholarship, knowing full well he may never be able to play.
"I'm thinking God still wants me to play football. They told me I had a year for a reason. They could have told me I could never play the sport again. So I'm planning on going to Georgia Tech and being the best player to ever come through there," Ratcliffe said.
Jaylend still has many surgeries scheduled but plans to be at as many games as he can.