SOLON, Ohio — What was supposed to be a routine, outpatient surgery left a beloved Copley assistant principal and youth basketball coach paralyzed from the waist down.
“Probably the hardest journey I’ve ever been on in my life,” Antoine Campbell said.
On January 20, Campbell walked into the hospital to undergo outpatient spinal stenosis surgery. When Campbell woke up from the surgery, he was unable move his legs.
The 44-year-old coach participated in daily, rigorous physical therapy to regain feeling and mobility in his legs.
“A lot of blood, sweat, tears, wake up, hit the repeat button and get after it again,” Campbell said.
After more than three months in the hospital, partially without visitors due to COVID-19 concerns, Campbell is back at home with his family.
“A lot of nights alone,” Campbell said. “A lot of waking up in the morning. A lot of hard work.”
Since his surgery, Campbell has leaned on faith, family and friends for support during his recovery period.
“When he woke up and couldn’t feel his legs we all were concerned and wanted to figure out what went wrong and what can we do to help support him,” close friend John Callaway said.
Campbell set his sights on several goals during his hospitalization period.
“I wanted to walk over 100 feet before I left, so I got 103 feet and I didn’t know how far it was,” Campbell said. “My other goal was to walk out from the hospital today and I was able to walk out today with the walker.”
Campbell was surprised to be greeted by neighbors, family members, friends and strangers after his hospital release.
“He’s always there for everybody. That’s why the community is coming out to show their support,” Callaway said. “I mean, if you need him, he’ll be there.”
However, his wife Jodi Campbell was given a heads-up about the surprise homecoming.
“All of these people have been here throughout this whole ordeal," Campbell said. “So it didn’t surprise me that they showed up to welcome him home.”
As a coach for several decades, Antoine Campbell is partial to his starting five. His wife, along with the couple’s four children, are thrilled to have their team captain back under the same roof and calling the shots.
“The tears are all happy tears. Tears of joy,” Campbell said, “Just for people to care for you and love you is really something that I’ll always cherish the rest of my life.”
Campbell’s community has raised more than $100,000 for the Campbell family to assist with medical bills and wheelchair-accessible home renovations. If you’d like to know more or contribute to that fundraiser, click here.