Tearing My ACL Was The Best Thing That Happened To Me. Part 1 – Jacolby Gilliam

Tearing My ACL Was The Best Thing That Happened To Me. Part 1 – Jacolby Gilliam

If you read the title, you probably think this dude must be crazy. But you read it right tearing my ACL was the best thing that could have happened to me as an athlete and as a person. For most of my life until October 21, 2011, my life was pretty easy, I couldn’t even tell you what adversity was. I was known as Jacolby, the athlete. Since junior high, I was always one of the fastest, strongest, one of the better players on my team. I’m not using this to brag about my high school hero moments but as an opportunity to show you that sometimes you have to become weak to grow stronger than you have ever been before.


Let me set the scene for you, I had just come off my best game as a high school football player against Dallas Jesuit. Heading into the Homecoming game against our rival Berkner I’m hyped thinking if I can play like I did against Jesuit these college coaches will really have a good look at me. Plus if I’m being real I felt we were better than them, so I was already looking forward to the 3 piece suit I was going to rock at the Homecoming dance.

Game day is finally here. We are rocking our fresh uniforms, want to say purple jerseys with the grey pants. You would have thought we were the Oregon Ducks with the number uniform combos we had at Richardson, and I think they even have more now.

All of these years leading up to my senior year I had no swagger with my football uniform, like none. The second I learned how to spat up my ankles with purple tape on with my Black Carbon Nike Vapors that season, my inner confidence was on a Deon Sanders level.

The Play

Back to the game, the 1st quarter our offense gets the ball first and goes 3 in-out in about a minute. So here comes the punt team; which I’m on and have been trying to get off of since the beginning of the season, guess my conscious knew that this day was coming.

We punt the ball I run down, just my luck I miss the tackle, what are the odds. I get up, the play is already fifteen yards ahead of me, so I start jogging towards the ball to get on defense. Out of nowhere this kid comes charging towards me, guess I had a bounty out on me lol. I try to brace for the hit with my left leg serving as my main support since I’m mid-stride. He hits me right in front of his sideline, so they go crazy. When he “blocked” me every part of my body went left except for my knee that buckled right. It was one of those blindside hits every football player wants for their highlight tape. So I probably made his, you’re welcome buddy.

By then the play is over, now about 20 yards ahead of me. I try to run to get on defense, and my left leg has that unstable after leg day feeling. I can’t run, with no clue with what is going on with my leg I manage to hobble to our sideline. I should have just laid there on the field for the trainers to come get me, but my pride could never let me do that. Remind you I was hit on the other sideline so I’m hobble-jogging about 60 yards. When I got one step onto our sideline and coach is like what wrong I said my knee then I just fell.

The first lesson of this beautiful story is don’t miss tackles.

Soft Smiles

Still not comprehending what’s happening here until the team doctor who you rarely see comes over with our trainers and does this pull test on my knee. After a few tugs, I said, “Am I good?” Homie gave me one of those soft smiles and walked with the trainers for a little bit. If you have ever given someone a soft smile you know it’s never that great. Now in my head, I’m bugging out.

They take me inside I’m limping, they throw this brace on my knee. Remember that purple spat job? Looks great but hella rough to get off.

All of this happened 2 minutes into the game, so it’s about to be a long night for me. Back on the sideline, everyone including teammates, cheerleaders, eagle guards are like Jacolby what happen? I’m giving everyone soft smiles.

We think he tore his ACL

The game is over, I think we loss. I wasn’t a terrible teammate, but at that time I had no care about that final score. In my head, I’m floating with the idea that I probably tore my ACL, but no one has said those words yet around me, so I’m still optimistic that maybe its just a severe sprain. That optimism left once my mom walked into the trainer’s room while I was sitting with the trainer and she asked, “what happened?

The trainer said, “We think he tore his ACL.”

Like I said until then no one has uttered those words. When the trainer spoke those words, I remember the tears falling down my face as I got up to walk outside. You know because we are invincible athletes no one is supposed to see us cry.

I just got teary eyed right now typing this just thinking about that moment because at that time I thought my life was over. Sounds a little dramatic but when you’re a senior athlete with no scholarship offers, a few interest letters, and you just suffered a potentially season-ending injury you would think you’re life was over too.

So much of my life was planned around football, and the thought of going to college without it didn’t even seem realistic. To make matters worst that Saturday night was our homecoming dance but that Saturday morning I had the SAT. To be continued…

What’s Next?

This story is just getting started. As athletes, we go through certain situations at the time suck hella bad, and you think why me. But at the time who knew tearing my ACL would give me the opportunity to be a student-athlete at my dream college The University of Oklahoma. Continue Part 2 Of The Story Here


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  1. […] will humble you quickly and that Friday night I got a big serving of it. If you miss Part 1 of this story, check it out here. I was just told I might have torn my ACL, crushing this future I had planned for myself revolving […]

  2. […] me, my story started when I faced my first stint of adversity when I tore my ACL my senior year of high school. As a 17 year athlete, this situation made me […]


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