The Inspiring Life of Travis Roy


Sean Yang, Staff Writer

Bright lights were shining, the audience was applauding, and adrenaline was rushing as Travis Roy stepped onto the ice. Roy was ready to prove himself. His father had been a successful hockey player before him. He was ready to dominate the game with his fellow teammates on the Boston University hockey team, but his career ended in an instant. He suffered an injury 11 seconds into his first hockey game in 1995 and was left a quadriplegic.

“It was as if my head had become disengaged from my body,” said Roy.

After crashing into an opposing defender and crashing into the boards of the arena, Roy had shattered his fourth and fifth cervical vertebrae and was immediately left paralyzed.

“That could have been me,” said Chris Drury, a sophomore on Roy’s hockey team at the time. 

Roy started off as a superstar hockey player with a host of colleges wanting him to play for their teams. The team he had chosen to join was a hockey powerhouse as four players who were on the team would go on to successful National Hockey League careers.

Even though Roy didn’t end up with a successful career in hockey, he channeled his passion for the sport by starting his own foundation, dedicated to spinal cord injury survivors. The foundation has given more than $5 million to rehabilitation institutions, research projects, and grants all dedicated to help improve the lives of paraplegics and quadriplegics.

“The way Travis dealt with this tragedy is an inspiration to me,” said Drury who would remain close to Roy as he went on to win a Stanley Cup. 

After winning the Cup, Drury took it back to Boston for Roy to see.

“It was the first time I had ever seen the Stanley Cup… It was a thrill,” said Roy.

Due to complications in a surgery Roy needed after being in a wheelchair for more than 25 years, Roy passed away Oct. 29. There were more than 200 church masses and prayer services dedicated to honor Roy according to his father. 

Roy truly made an impact on the hockey world as many Boston University members who join the team today are still inspired by Roy’s bravery.

“Watching him graduate in four years without being able to pick up a highlighter or take notes in class” showed his extraordinary determination, said Roy’s siblings.

“Sometimes in life you choose your challenges, other times the challenges choose you, and it’s what you do in the face of those challenges that defines you and what you’ll become,” said Roy. 

Roy is survived by his mother, father, and siblings. Giving speeches in his wheelchair, Roy was able to encourage youth like himself to never give up, as he was able to overcome his own adversity. Even after it seemed like Roy’s entire career was over, Roy persevered and was able to find a new passion: motivational speeches for youth. The entire hockey world will also remember him forever as he continues to inspire and motivate others everyday.


Photo courtesy of BU.EDU