Horrific crash shattered player's footy dreams but not his team spirit
Bruklan "BJ" Marshall had just been selected to play rugby league for his hometown in Queensland, Australia when a horrific car crash shattered his dream - and hopes of ever playing again.
But just a month after the accident, in which he lost an arm, the 18-year-old is not sitting around complaining or thinking about what might have been. And his positive attitude is proving an inspiration to everyone around him.
"He may be missing an arm, but he's not missing his sense of humour," his mother Tracey Ashworth said.
On April 12 Marshall was driving to footy training at Harrisville, about an hour south-west of Brisbane, when his car collided with a truck.
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He was airlifted to Queensland's Princess Alexandra Hospital in a serious condition, where he was taken almost straight into surgery.
"They took him in for surgery about 10.30, 11 o'clock at night, at 2.30 they came out and said they couldn't save his arm, and he was in surgery from there till about 6 o'clock in the morning," Ashworth said.
As well as losing his right arm, Marshall suffered a broken jaw and liver damage.
After a week in ICU he was transferred to the Orthopedic ward, and he is now in the Brain Injuries Rehabilitation Unit where he undergoes daily sessions with physiotherapists, occupational therapists and speech therapists.
Far from complaining about his injuries or the rehab sessions that Ashworth said leave him exhausted, Marshall was focussing on his recovery.
"I'm getting a bit sick of these things (the bandages and pins in the arm) but apart from that yeah it's been good," he said.
"I don't mind being in here if it's the key to getting me better and back on my feet then yeah it's worth it."
In a break from rehab on Tuesday, Broncos players Jordan Kahu and Moses Pangai paid Marshall a visit, organised by the charity Men of League.
Having now spent more than a month in hospital, Marshall was thrilled to meet the players.
"It's awesome, a big help, I mean I've watched them throughout the years, to get to meet them is fantastic," he said.
Kahu said it was great to hear how well Marshall's recovery had been going.
"Obviously it was good to come here and pay him a visit and he's been going through some tough times of late," Kahu said.
"But he's been improving pretty quick as we've been told, just a credit to himself and I guess his family as well for how far long he's come in such a short amount of time."
Ashworth, who makes the hour-long drive from the family's home in Peak Crossing every day, said Marshall's positive attitude was wonderful.
"It's been great, only because he's been so strong himself and he's been so positive," she said.
"I sort of thought that being a footballer and being chosen for a rep team on the day of the accident and then suddenly waking up and realising you've lost your arm and you can't play anymore, I thought he was going to take it really hard.
"But he's surprisingly come out of it so well and he's so positive, he still has his sense of humour."
While he won't be able to play with his team, the Fassifern Bombers, like he used to, Marshall said he has no plans to just be a spectator.
"(I can) run water for the boys, I'll still be part of the team. Assistant coach even, maybe, I'd still like to put in," he said.
"It's life really; played it, watched it every weekend, it's good fun. A second home really."
Marshall still has months of hospital and rehabilitation ahead, and Marshall said the community had been incredibly supportive.
"The whole community has been doing fundraisers for him," she said, adding the family had also set up a Mycause page for donations.
"I can't wait for when we can take him out of here to go back and see all these people and just show them that he is OK," Ms Ashworth said.
"I can't wait to take him out and just say thank you."
- Brisbane Times