'We'll be friends for a good time now'


SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Neither LaQuan Phillips nor Corben Brooks knew the kind of friendship that awaited them at Shriners Hospitals for Children Northern California.

The kind of a last-a-lifetime friendship only they could have.

Phillips, a 17-year-old Green Valley High School senior football player, has lived at Shriners for the past six weeks while rehabilitating from multiple spinal cord injuries he suffered in a game on Sept. 5.

Brooks, a 17-year-old Mount Shasta (Calif.) High School senior football player, has been there for the past month while rehabbing from a fracture of the C5 bone along his spinal cord sustained in an August scrimmage.

The injuries have left the roommates -- both weak side linebackers -- with partial paralysis.

And much to stay up late talking about in their second-floor room.

"I'm really glad I met LaQuan, under different circumstances, I wish," Brooks said. "I think we'll be friends for a good time now. I wasn't expecting that coming to a hospital, especially with another football player."

The bond they've formed also surprised Phillips.

"That's one of the main reasons I'm glad I did come here," Phillips said. "Being around people who are going through what I'm going through, and are still in it, there's so much we have to connect about."

On Oct. 22, the two sat across from one another reading from American government textbooks in their 11/2-hour school session.

Later, they rehabbed in the same therapy room. While Phillips received electroshock treatment on his right arm, Brooks went through exercises on a therapy bed.

Whereas Phillips was injured in the Gators' second game of the season, Brooks never had a chance to play in a regular-season game for the Bears as a senior.

"We were talking, and he was like, 'At least you got to play that game,' " Phillips said. "It sucks to have to go out in the second game of my senior season, but like he said, at least I got to play."

After returning from physical therapy, Phillips and Brooks began watching a DVD of the Sept. 5 game against Centennial in which Phillips was hurt.

They bantered joyfully about the game until the second-quarter collision that sent Phillips motionless to the ground.

"One of my teammates said, 'Get up,' " Phillips recalled. "I said, 'I can't move.' That's when I realized I was paralyzed."

They quietly watched a series after play resumed.

Before long, they were bantering about the game again.

"It makes you not feel alone," Brooks said.

Contact reporter Tristan Aird at taird@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5203.

 

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