Injured ASU baseball player is out to beat the oddsPosted: Updated:
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Cory Hahn's devastating spinal cord injury has crippled his body but not his spirit.
"I've always been a positive kid," said Hahn, 20, on a recent Friday evening as he watched his baseball teammates warm up for a game.
Hahn should be out on the field with them. In 2010 he was one of Arizona State University's top recruits, named California's "Mr. Baseball," the honor bestowed upon the top high school baseball player in the state.
"That was my true passion," Hahn said. "That's what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, I felt like that was what I was born to do."
His plans have changed.
On Feb. 20, 2011, the Sun Devils were playing New Mexico. It was the third game of Hahn's college baseball career and he decided to steal a base, sliding head first into second. He collided with the baseman's shin and broke his neck.
"I remember stealing second base and obviously sliding in, and I heard a crack, like a snap or something," Hahn said. "I went to try to get up and I couldn't."
Hahn underwent surgery at St. Joseph's Hospital where doctors fused several vertebrae in his spine and told him his chances of walking again were very slim.
"They said, 'Hey, we've done all we can do, it's in God's hands now,'" Hahn said. "That was kind of the thing that made me realize, whoa, I don't want to hear something like that, and that's what drives me to try to prove them wrong."
After his surgery he returned home to Corona, Calif., and began the long road to recovery.
Hahn is paralyzed from the chest down. He can use his arms but has limited use of his hands. He has had to re-learn to do the most mundane tasks, like feeding himself and brushing his teeth.
"You don't know how excited I got when I could eat a cheeseburger again or hold a fork, I was so excited," he said.
For months he kept up with his ASU studies remotely and spent hours at physical therapy. Eager to regain some independence and rejoin his baseball buddies, he approached his parents with the idea of returning to ASU this semester.
"They became my family, the whole baseball team ... and it seemed right, I wanted to return to them," he said.
It took some convincing, but soon Hahn's dad, Dale, was on board. He'd already left his California sales job to help take care of his son and decided to come to Tempe with him this semester.
Dale stays at an extended-stay hotel a few minutes from the off-campus house where Cory lives with a few teammates.
Each morning Dale shows up to help get Cory up and ready for the day and drives him to class.
He's there at the end of every night to get him back into bed.
"We take everything one day at a time," Dale said.
Now back in the routine of college life, Hahn does not miss a Sun Devils game.
"It gets tough seeing it, seeing people play, seeing my buddies play, but I've realized there's more things I've got to take care of personally, because there's more to life than baseball," he said.
For now he's focused on keeping the muscles he can control strong, so that if a cure for paralysis becomes available he's ready.
He is humbled by the outpouring of support from his teammates, friends and even complete strangers. Since the day of the accident well-wishers have reached out to let them know they are rooting for him.
"I read everything people send me, whether it's a Facebook message or Twitter message," Hahn said.
Hahn's high school alma mater, Mater Dei, has set up a special fund to help pay for his medical care.
And the support from the baseball community has not faltered.
Athletic company Trinity Bats has designed a special Cory Hahn baseball bat with proceeds going to his family.