ESPN’s College Gameday joined with AT&T’s It Can Wait initiative to share the story of Memphis’s own Fletcher Cleaves. Cleaves had just received a college scholarship and been named a starter for the Lambuth University football team in 2009 when a car accident wrought havoc on his life and the lives of his parents.
Fletcher Cleaves was driving home after an evening of football practice and dinner with his friend on September 9, 2009. Cleaves remembers “the glow from the phone on the other driver’s face” before realizing that an oncoming car was drifting into his lane. Cleaves swerved to avoid a head-on collision, and instead flipped his car into an embankment alongside the road.
Cleaves was paralyzed from the chest down, and has had to undergo extensive physical therapy in order to regain the use of his arms. His parents also suffered, as they both lost their jobs as a result of providing the round-the-clock care Cleaves needed.
Not to be deterred, Cleaves has recently struck out on his own after graduating from the University of Memphis. He hopes to share his story in an effort to warn drivers of the potential danger of using a cell phone behind the wheel.