“It was his fourth day in ninth grade,” said Tina Montgomery, John Paul’s mother. “He was 14, going on 15.”
John Paul said he was on the practice field at Pell City High School in August 2003, running the last football play of that practice.
“We ran it once and I didn’t tackle the guy and the blocker got me,” he said. “So we ran it one more time and I tackled the running back, but he was getting hit behind by two or three other people. All of them were coming at me and as soon as I hit him, I didn’t have feeling of anything. I just fell down.”
John Paul said he was flown by LifeSaver helicopter to Children’s Hospital in Birmingham.
“They did surgery immediately,” Tina Montgomery said. “He was in the hospital for about a month and began to get a little bit of arm movement back.”
Tina Montgomery said John Paul was homebound his entire freshman year.
“He had rehab three days a week and the homebound teacher from the Pell City School System came out twice a week,” she said.
John Paul was able to return to Pell City High School for his sophomore through senior years, and graduated in 2007 at the top of his class. After graduating, he attended Jefferson State Community College and UAB.
“When he first began attending UAB, he and his dad, Paul, stayed in a dorm there three to four days a week, and would come home on weekends,” she said. “He has a modified truck and was able to drive himself back and forth to school his last couple of years.”
After graduating, John Paul said he plans to take a break and study for the GRE and apply to graduate school at either UAB or the University of Alabama.
“I plan to study clinical psychology and get a Masters or a Ph.D., depending on what school I attend,” he said. “My total goal is a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology.”
John Paul said he wants to work with kids who have been injured, and also work with sports teams.
“I’m a huge Alabama fan,” he said. “That and hunting are my two big things.”
Tina Montgomery said as a graduation present, John Paul received tickets to the BCS Championship in Miami.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” he said.
Tina Montgomery said John Paul attends Alabama home football games, and has gotten to know Alabama head football Coach Nick Saban and his wife, Terry, as well as other coaches, staff and players.
“He is part of Coach Saban’s friends group,” she said. “It’s been great, and we really appreciate Mrs. Saban. They both are super nice.”
Tina Montgomery said John Paul gives God all the glory for all he’s achieved.
“He has always been positive and outgoing, setting high standards and achieving them,” she said. “He couldn’t do that without the prayers from family and friends and the community support.”
John Paul said his favorite Bible verse is Jeremiah 29:11.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
“I pretty much try to live by that,” he said.
Contact Elsie Hodnett at email@example.com.