Gary Lyons wasn't flipping for a crowd, jumping out of a plane or rock climbing when he crushed spine on May 25.
He was just going up to catch a pass during his umpteenth routine game of basketball.
The 32-year-old Philadelphia 76ers Dunk Squad performer was weeks away from graduating the fire academy and going on to become one of Camden County's bravest, like his uncle.
It was a devastating blow for Lyons, whose life is a constant flow of activity and movement.
But, he tells Daily Voice from Magee Rehabilitation, giving up isn't in the cards.
"The past two weeks have been a lot to process." he said. "One minute, I’m playing a normal game of basketball and planning for the fire academy in the morning and the next, I’m in a hospital bed with weird tingling sensations, wires everywhere I look, a breathing tube, a neck brace and very little control over my limbs.
"It’s still so crazy to fathom, but I plan to approach it the only way I know how - with optimism and maximum effort."
More than $12,000 had been raised on a GoFundMe page launched for his recovery as of Tuesday, June 7.
Strength, endurance, and adventure are what [Lyons] thrives on. On a weekly basis, he flipped his body around like an acrobat, performing at half-time in front of thousands of fans as a member of the Philadelphia 76ers Dunk Squad," the page reads.
"On vacations, he left no rocky terrain unclimbed and jumped at the opportunity to dive off cliffs into the ocean. He has a thirst for life and adventure beyond anything most people could fathom, so hearing that his injury was sustained when he jumped up to grab a pass and fell seems like it could only be fate - God’s plan."
Lyons knows life has more in store for him. So he keeps his chin up.
"No matter what it takes, I will push boundaries and work my absolute hardest," he said. "It’s a marathon, not a race. BRB 🙏🏾❤️🤞🏾"
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