Travis Roy, BU player paralyzed in first game in 1995, dies at 45; hockey world mourns

Eleven seconds.

Just 11 seconds into his first collegiate game, on his first shift as a member of the Boston University men’s ice hockey team, Travis Roy’s life trajectory changed. He slid head-first into the boards and fractured the fourth vertebrae in his neck leaving him a quadriplegic. Although his promising hockey career came to an end, Roy became an inspirational figure through his philanthropic work.

On Thursday, 25 years and nine days after his debilitating injury, Roy died at the age of 45. A family spokesman reported it was due to complications of being a quadriplegic.

The hockey world has spent the evening mourning Roy and remembering his contributions.

“It is with heavy hearts that we mourn the passing of Travis Roy,” BU Athletics said in a statement. “His story is the epitome of inspiration and courage, and he was a role model and a hero to so many people. Travis’ work and dedication towards helping fellow spinal cord-injury survivors is nothing short of amazing. His legacy will last forever, not just within the Boston University community, but with the countless lives he has impacted across the country. Our sincere thoughts are with his wonderful family as well as his vast support group of friends and colleagues.”

In 1996 the Travis Roy Foundation was established to help spinal cord injury survivors and to fund research. Half of the money raised goes to Quality of Life Grants, while more than $4.6 million has been awarded in research grants.

The Terriers retired Roy’s No. 24 in 1999 and he was honored by BU in 2015. 

“Twenty years ago tonight, I lived out my dream of playing Division I hockey,” he said five years ago. “The 11 seconds at Walter Brown Arena playing for Boston University were the best 11 seconds of my life.”

He added, “My work on the Travis Roy Foundation alongside my friends and family has helped me create a life that is very rich, very much worth living. I feel so loved.”

The hockey world took to social media to remember Roy.

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