High school senior paralyzed in scrimmage

The Woodrow Wilson High football player was injured Friday, his mother said. He is at Cooper Hospital.

By Sam Carchidi

Inquirer Staff Writer

CAMDEN - Shykem Lawrence, 17, a senior football player at Woodrow Wilson High in Camden, was paralyzed after suffering a spinal-cord injury in a scrimmage against host Eastern on Friday night, his mother told The Inquirer last night.
Lawrence was breathing with the help of a ventilator last night at Cooper University Hospital in Camden, according to his mother, Alvinita Lawrence. A hospital spokeswoman said that because Shykem Lawrence was a minor, the hospital could not release information about his condition.
According to Alvinita Lawrence, her son is paralyzed from the neck down. She said he was able to move his mouth yesterday.
Lawrence, a safety, was injured making a tackle early in the scrimmage, Eastern athletic director Phil Smart said. After the injury, Lawrence stopped breathing and had to be revived on the field. Smart said the player was "gulping for air." He said trainers - Eastern's Casey Christy and Wilson's Dorrell Morrison - and Eastern's team doctor, Michael Hassman, revived Lawrence.
"The heroic efforts of the medical staff kept him alive," Smart said.
Adam Taliaferro, a former Eastern standout who was paralyzed while making a tackle for Penn State in 2000, was on the sideline watching the scrimmage when Lawrence was injured.
Luther Howard, the first-year Wilson coach, said his team canceled yesterday's practice and would resume tomorrow. Howard called Lawrence "a well-liked guy and one of the team's leaders."
Howard is close friends with Andre Taliaferro, Adam's father. Andre Taliaferro arrived at the scrimmage just after Lawrence was injured, and he went to the hospital to visit the player and his family.
Andre Taliaferro said "a lot of prayers are needed" if Lawrence was to walk again. "He's young and he's a fighter," said his mother, who is known as Nita. Shykem (rhymes with dream) is the second of her six children.
In the last two nights, Andre Taliaferro has counseled Nita Lawrence.
"I told her she's going to hear bad stuff for the next two weeks, but we know miracles can happen," he said. "I told her about our situation and how Adam is walking."
Lawrence's injury is considered more severe than Adam Taliaferro's, Andre Taliaferro said. He said Adam's injury was C-5, which refers to the vertebra in the neck, while Lawrence's was at C-3. The lower the number, the more danger to the patient, he said.
After the injury, the scrimmage was canceled. Both teams said a prayer together and lined up in the traditional handshake line. "It was very emotional," Smart said. "Instead of handshakes, everybody hugged each other. It was one of the most moving things I've ever seen. It put the game in perspective."
Last night at the hospital, former Eastern coach Larry Ginsburg