PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Doctors thought that a teenager would never walk again. He was paralyzed in an accident.
But, an iconic college coach challenged him to push beyond his injuries.
There was a touching pre-game moment at St. Joe’s University, as fans not only cheered for the hawks, but also cheered for a 16-year-old student who was paralyzed from a skateboarding accident. Doctors thought this moment would never happen.
“If you believe you can do anything,” said Lenny Martelli.
No relationship to the Hawks coach Phil Martelli, at least not by blood, but Lenny believes the two will forever be joined in hope.
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It was a year ago that Lenny became paralyzed in an accident. His parents got the phone call.
“(they said) that he might ever walk again. It was in the unknown, it was day by day,” said Len Martelli Sr.
“I always thought I’d be able to walk, I wouldn’t accept it. This is more than amazing.
When Lenny was paralyzed he told his mother he wanted to meet the Hawks coach that shared their last name and when his mother called, the coach responded. He came to visit Lenny and made him a promise.
“He told me you’ll walk on the floor with me and I said okay,” said Lenny.
“I want to say thanks to Phil Martelli. Phil is a big part of his motivation to get better,” said Lenny Sr.
“It’s been very emotional. I try not to cry all night but I lost it watching him walk out there,” said Leti Martelli, Lenny’s mother.
“It was pretty hard (to watch). It was really something,” said the St. Joe’s University Hawks Basketball head coach Phil Martelli. “He’ll have something when he’s a dad and he has a chance to turn around and reach back and help somebody, he’s going to say, ‘you know what, people were kind me to me and I’ll pass it forward.’”
Not only did Lenny learn from the coach, Phil Martelli tells Eyewitness News he learned from Lenny as well, how to have a great outlook on life.