Alex Ruiz, a quarterback for Linfield Christian High School in Temecula, California, suffered a catastrophic injury last fall that resulted in the loss of his leg. Last weekend, Ruiz got help from an unexpected source: New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees.
Through the Football N’ America flag football league that Brees founded, the Saints QB provided Ruiz with his first prosthetic walking leg, and a promise to pay for an athletic one later this year.
“If there’s anything above Cloud Nine, that’s where I’m at right now,” Ruiz told reporters at the presentation. Ruiz, who grew up watching Brees play for the then-San Diego Chargers, wears No. 9 in Brees’s honor. Last fall, Ruiz dislocated his knee during a tackle, severing an artery and cutting off blood flow to his leg for 11 hours. In February, Ruiz made the decision to amputate his leg.
Brees connected with Ruiz through Football N’ America, a charitable flag football organization he began in Louisiana and expanded to San Diego. FNA worked with Challenged Athletes Foundation, which helps athletes fighting back from traumatic injury, to identify Ruiz.
Brees already knew of Ruiz through a mutual friend; Brees sent a jersey Ruiz’s way last fall. “In the back of my mind, I said to myself, ‘I hope I get a chance to meet this young man someday,'” Brees said at the recent event. “Alex has suffered a long and very difficult road but has remained so positive and insists this set of circumstances will not hold him back. He still has loftier goals than ever for his athletic career and beyond. We wanted to help his dreams come true.”
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.
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