MEMPHIS, Tenn. — September of 2013 would be the both the first and last football game of the season for Memphis University School cornerback Josiah Crutchfield. A serious injury after tackling another player would bench him.
“It was the first game of the season and we were playing at Briarcrest. I had to chase him from behind and I tackled him and I landed on his heels. My abdomen landed on his heels,” Josiah said.
The stadium was filled with fans, along with Josiah’s sister Grace and his dad Lynord Crutchfield, who’s also Central High School football coach.
“It was such a shock. I was there filming the game,” Lynord said.
But no one had a clue to the extent of Josiah’s injury.
“When it first happened, I thought I got the wind knocked out of me. So, I got back up and jogged to the sideline,” Josiah said.
“He looked at me and I said, ‘Joe, what’s wrong?’ And he said, ‘I can barely catch my breath,’ and the trainer walked over to me and said, ‘Coach, he may have a bruised diaphragm,'” Lynord said.
Josiah’s dad took him to Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital.
“I knew I was in excruciating pain. I laid down in the back of my dad’s car and ah, ah and the pain intensified as we were driving,” Josiah said.
His mom, Robin, was at a business meeting, and she rushed to Le Bonheur soon after hearing the news about her son.
“I was stunned. I was just thinking this can’t be happening to us,” Robin said.
The next day Josiah’s parents thought he was doing better and his dad even returned to football practice at Central High. But later, a doctor told Josiah’s mom he had a torn pancreas.
“I go, ‘What?’ I’m thinking a bruised abdomen. Nobody said a tear, and he said if this were my boy, we’d be going to surgery,” Robin said.
“(Robin) said, ‘You need to come back,’ and I immediately left and came back to the hospital,” Lynord said.
The family agreed surgery was the right thing for Josiah.
“I just got choked up and it was like a flood. I couldn’t hold it in any longer,” Robin said.
Dr. Trey Eubanks is Le Bonheur’s Trauma Services Director.
“When he came to us and we identified that injury, our team quickly got him to the operating room and removed a small portion of the pancreas and he tolerated that well,” Eubanks said.
But days later, Josiah’s pain returned.
“I had an intussusception and that’s when your intestines telescoped upon itself and the doctors didn’t know what was causing my pain,” Josiah said.
Josiah would have two more surgeries before he was well enough to go home.
“When they said you can go home, I said I really don’t want to leave because they treated me so well,” Josiah said.
After 17 nights at Le Bonheur and a month off from school, Josiah, an Honor Council student, returned to MUS. His classmates surprised him by wearing specially-designed shirts to welcome him back.
“When I saw those shirts, I knew they sort of missed me, said, ‘Congratulations, you’re well again,,” Josiah said.
Josiah is well enough to compete in sports on a limited basis.
“Although I can’t play football, I still play lacrosse. So, I’m pretty happy,” Josiah said.
He’s happy and now keeping a camera focused on his football teammates by videoing their games.
They’re opportunities he and his family say are possible thanks to the specialized care at Le Bonheur, a hospital that kept Josiah in the game of life.
“They took really good care of him and I was just really happy that Le Bonheur was right here in our backyard to take care of that,” Robin said.
“Le Bonheur is very prestigious. I’m sure it is nationally ranked, if not globally ranked, and we had some of the best surgeons and staff to work on me and make me better,” Josiah said.