Ex-Wesson Star Stuns Doctors with Recovery

"The only person who can hold you back is yourself."

“The only person who can hold you back is yourself.”

That’s a quote that I repeat to myself everyday. My name is Drexel L. Hudgins and this is my story. I can only hope that it leaves you with a new outlook on life.

As a child I had the benefit of having both parents in the home along with two younger sisters. My parents always had me enrolled in one sport or another and it kept me out of trouble and off the streets. I liked football and baseball, but I thoroughly enjoyed basketball. Whether it was playing with the neighborhood kids, the local 3 on 3 at the mall or being involved in a weekend tournament I lived basketball. As I got older and started to grow so did my skills on the court. I started playing in elementary and continued on through high school were I received a full ride scholarship to Colorado Northwestern Community College; it was a two year school in Rangley, Colorado. While attending CNCC I knew that I was going to better myself mentally and physically on the court.

A couple of months into my scholarship a classmate and I decided to go home for the weekend. The school is located in the mountains and it had snowed a couple of days prior to us leaving. As I was packing up my bag to go home, I decided to take my mountain bike so that I could do some riding over the weekend. We headed out mid morning and as we drove my bike kept tapping on the back window. Eventually my classmate asked if I would move my bike so that it would stop tapping on the glass. As I took off my seat belt and proceeded to climb into the back of his Ford Bronco we hit a patch of black ice. From that point on I don’t remember what happened. The report that my classmate gave to the authorities and my family stated that we rolled three times. The force of the blow propelled me out of the window and I was somehow tangled up in my bike.  I had broken the C5-C6 vertebrae in my neck which resulted in brain hemorrhage and and later pneumonia.

I was transported by “flight by life” to the nearest hospital in Grand Junction, Colorado, and my chances of my survival was slim and none. It seemed like forever before I finally opened my eyes. I was heavily sedated. I was greeted by my family and girlfriend at the time. I was so heavily sedated I didn’t know what was going on. I couldn’t move anything but my eyes. Later on that day the doctors came in and explained what had happened. I was paralyzed from the neck down with a steel plate and screws  in my neck. On the positive side of things there was a good chance that I may get “some” sensation back since I was young, athletic and took care of my body. I was there from December 9 to December 23. I was then flown to Craig Hospital in Denver, Colorado. This Hospital is known as one of the best spinal cord and brain injury hospitals in the country!

Drexel 8

From day one at Craig Hospital I told myself that I wasn’t going to let this obstacle get in the way of me living my life no matter what the final outcome would be. I started physical and occupational therapy. I always pretended to be fine; like nothing bothered me; imagined I was the same person I was before. Although I fought hard everyday and gave it my all,  I still felt like less of a person. I started to think that all the effort was for nothing; that I would never walk again; I wanted to give up. One night however I had a dream so vivid and real that I was going to walk the next day during a pool therapy session; that I pleaded with therapist to let me give it a try and for the first time in two months I began to walk again. Everyone was amazed that I was up and walking so early considering the type of break I had in my neck.  From that point on there was no holding me back. I had overcome self-doubt and now believed that I could accomplish anything.

I then prepared to make the transition back home to face “my reality” for the first time since the accident. It wasn’t as easy as I thought. I had gone from being a popular guy at school; known for my basketball skills; to the guy that was  in a car accident. I lost friends and my girlfriend at the time and for years afterward I battled personal demons telling me that I just wasn’t good enough. That I couldn’t be productive in society. I wasn’t attractive; nobody would ever like me for who I am. I thought myself a total failure. The only thing that helped me to relieve stress and take my mind off of things was my time at the gym. At first the gym was a scary place to be, but after a while the athlete in me came back. As I got older and started following the ways of the world I lost my passion for the gym. I would be consistent then stop and this routine went on for years. Until one day I looked at myself in the mirror and decided it was time for a change. The pity party was over and I really wanted a six-pack!  My journey on the path to being fit and healthy began. After a solid year of training at the gym I could see some serious results and I was getting stronger every day. One day I was approached by a fellow gym rat about competing in a bodybuilding competition. I never gave it much thought until I actually did my own research and went to my first show. I thought “hey I can do this; plus I could be the first disabled men’s physique champion!”  So I began researching and asking around and getting advice about what I need to do in order to participate in this sport. I soaked up everyone’s advice like a sponge and decided that it was what I wanted in life. To make a difference not only in my own personal life by competing in my first Colorado NPC Men’s Physique Bodybuilder Show but to show others to never give up on life.

The sky is not the limit... I am.

The sky is not the limit… I am.

I can honestly say that this sport has changed my life and opened doors for me in such a positive direction I couldn’t have been more blessed. Currently part of team Ultimate Transformation, they’ve given me hope and opened my eyes to the bigger picture of how I can affect people’s lives. Show people never give up on your dreams and that with hard work and dedication you can do anything, no matter what your physical ability is. It’s not what your body can do; it’s what your heart says you can do.

Talk to God or whoever you believe in and ask for peace and understanding and you’ll be surprised at the doors that will open for you. The only person who can and will hold you back is yourself.


Contact info Twitter: @drexelhudgins53  Facebook: Drexel L. Hudgins  Email: drexelhudgins@yahoo.com


  1. as a person who was also in a comma at one point after an accident and faced w possibly never walking again – i get it – and i applaud you (hugs)

  2. Tez Cox (almightytez Gymtraining) says:

    Reading this story is very moving, and I know you must have over come a lot to get this Far, congrats
    I’ve loved your story so much I shared it

  3. BRAVOOOO! What an amazing story! I will definitely be following this brother for continued inspiration!

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