On the field, rivalries rule college football. But off the field, rivalries mean nothing when someone needs help. Which is why the Alabama State University football team is putting aside its rivalry with Tuskegee University to help a Tuskegee player who needs it.
Jabari Bailey is the player who needs help. According to WSFA, Jabari lost his leg in a July 11 car accident in Memphis, Tennessee while helping a friend who was stalled on the side of a busy road. Jabari was hooking up cables between his friend’s car and another car when a third car smashed into one of the others. The force of the crash pinned Jabari’s left leg between the two cars, severing it at the knee. The driver of the car, who was charged with failing to yield causing serious injury, was uninsured and has a history of motor vehicle offenses that goes back nearly 30 years.
Since the accident, Jabari has received an outpouring of support. Tuskegee released a statement saying that it would pay for “Jabari’s actual and necessary expenses related to him and his family,” which is permitted by the NCAA. The school also set up a GoFundMe to help pay for Jabari’s rehab costs and other expenses like his prosthetic (which is also allowed by the NCAA). The owner of Heritage Barbershop, which is close to campus, volunteered to raise money.
But the most surprising promise of support came from Donald Hill-Eley, the football coach at Tuskegee rival Alabama State University. Hill-Eley told WSFA that he wants ASU fans donate to the GoFundMe and support Jabari like he’s one of their own.
“We are going to compete with them. We are going to play them hard just like any other game, but when it comes to one of our guys that is down, whether it Alabama State or Tuskegee we are going to support our kids,” Hill-Eley explained. “My heart just goes out to that program and the family.”
Hill-Eley, his ASU players and staff, and Heritage Barbershop plan to announce their contributions next week. Jabari’s GoFundMe has already posted pictures of Jabari on crutches at the hospital, starting his road to recovery.
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