Soccer player fulfilling his dream for Mountain View

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By Joe Farris By Joe Farris

Gio Pierre-Louis loves to play soccer -- a sport that the Mesa student-athlete has been unable to play until now.

After suffering a life-threatening injury, Pierre-Louis is inspiring others on and off the field.

“I pretty much just kicked it and the ball went in,” Pierre-Louis said. “So I wasn’t sure if that was a goal. I stopped and then I’m like, yes!”

Pierre-Louis is describing how he felt when he scored his first goal playing for the varsity boys soccer team at Mountain View High School in Mesa this season.

“It was pretty much redemption type of thing,” Pierre-Louis said. “I was like, I’m back into it.”

Varsity boys soccer coach Kevin Burke couldn’t agree more.

“It was one of those moments when he scored ... I mean goals are goals, they can happen every game,” Burke said. “So when you score everyone gets excited, but when he scored, it was different.”

It was different because Pierre-Louis hasn’t played on a competitive soccer team since he was severely shocked in his hometown of Leogane, Haiti, in 2008. He burned more than 60 percent of his head and a part of his skull was blown away.

“They say, 'He looks like he’s going to die,’” Pierre-Louis said. “'We will put him in a coma and after 24 hours, if he's alive, we’re going to send him help.’”

Pierre-Louis got care at a hospital in the Dominican Republic for the next two years.

But more help was needed and Pierre-Louis’ father reached out to Dr. Charles Peterson with OrthoArizona’s Arizona Sports Medicine Center Division.

The two met when Peterson went to Haiti in January 2010 to treat earthquake victims.

“He said his son was dying and he told me the background story on how Gio had been electrocuted,” Peterson said. “He doesn’t know of anything I can do, but if I have any ideas or thoughts, please help.”

Peterson, along with others from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, helped Pierre-Louis get the treatment he needed at the Shriner’s Hospital in Boston.

“He’s here recovering from his health injuries and he’s finally allowed to play sports,” Peterson said.

Doctors gave Pierre-Louis the green light before he went to live with Peterson and his family this school year.

“It’s so exciting to see his love of it and the enthusiasm and just see Gio finally allowed to be Gio,” Peterson said.

New beginnings for a 17-year-old who beat the odds from surviving his injuries to being able to play the sport he loves.

“It’s good for our kids to grow up learning how to help others and not just help others, but be a part of your life,” Peterson said.

“For me it’s a cool thing as a friend to see him achieve something he thought he never would again,” Burke said.

“I just want to say to people who think they’re alone that there are people out there who will be there for you whenever you need them,” Pierre-Louis said.