MEMPHIS, Tenn. — We know it’s dangerous to text and drive.
In some instances it’s deadly, in others it’s life changing.
That was the case with Fletcher Cleaves, a former football player who’s now in a wheelchair.
Fletcher’s story is one of tragedy and triumph.
In 2009, the Cordova High School football standout received a scholarship to play football at The University of Memphis Lambuth in Jackson, Tennessee.
One night after practice, a month into his first semester, his life changed forever.
“I looked up, and there was an oncoming car.”
The then 18-year-old and his teammate were returning to campus when he swerved to miss that car.
“I ended up flipping into an embankment and ended up breaking my neck.”
Fletcher believes the driver of the car simply wasn’t paying attention when she drifted into his lane.
“She was definitely distracted because once I saw her, I could tell she was looking down, and I saw the glow from some type of device.”
Fletcher’s roommate survived, and after years of therapy and rehab, Fletcher is moving on with life.
The once physically dominant athlete said other than being unable to walk; he’s the same guy.
“I still try to be the jokester, the life of the party.”
He’s also sharing his story as part of a national campaign by AT&T to stop distracted driving.
On September 19, Fletcher’s story will air on ESPN’s Game Day.
He hopes one day people will frown upon distracted driving as much they do drinking and driving.
“They don’t know the danger they’re putting themselves in, they don’t know the danger they’re putting the people around them in.”
Fletcher said the woman who caused his accident didn’t even stop.
But he’s not bitter, he loves to laugh and to make those around him smile.
“One time I was running late for a class at the U of M, and I was like, ‘Sorry I’m late, I had to take the stairs.”
While he has a good sense of humor, no one knows better than Fletcher Cleaves how serious of a problem distracted driving is.
That’s why he’s hoping his story will get you to put down your phone and drive.