A former New York Giants player is sharing his personal story this Independence Day.
Jason Pierre-Paul was a standout defensive end with a promising career ahead of him on July 4th, 2015 — a date that forever changed his life.
That was the day that Pierre-Paul nearly lost his right hand, and his blossoming career in the NFL. He was severely injured while handling fireworks, in an incident that left his hand disfigured and ultimately led to the amputation of his index finger.
Despite the physical pain and multiple setbacks, Pierre-Paul has worked extra hard to return to the game he loves. He now plays for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and has progressed so far since the day of the accident.
Just in time for this year’s 4th of July celebrations, Pierre-Paul took to Instagram to share an important reminder about always being safe around fireworks. He posted a graphic image of his hand in the days following the incident, which show bandages and medical instruments covering what’s left of his fingers as his charred skin starts a slow healing process.
“It’s been [three years] since my accident and I can truly say I’m very blessed and fortunate to be where I am in life,” the 29-year-old wrote in the caption of his Instagram post, published on July 3. “Looking at these pictures seems unreal and crazy. How your life can change in the blink of an eye.”
Although the Fourth is a special occasion for all, Pierre-Paul reminded Americans to be careful. “One of the greatest American traditions in celebrating 4th of July is with fireworks. Unfortunately, tomorrow someone will be injured playing with fireworks,” he wrote. “We are celebrating the birthday of our great nation. I’m glad to still be alive to show you the outcome of what happened to me. Please don’t feel sorry for me, trust me your boy fine even with missing fingers. Be safe out there otherwise, this can be you.”
His photo has gone viral, with more than 32,000 likes on Instagram and hundreds of comments.
His message is undoubtedly an important one as the National Fire Protection Association reports that thousands, many of them kids and teens, are hurt while partaking in 4th of July celebrations. Just last year alone, emergency rooms across the country treated nearly 13,000 people for injuries related to fireworks. To stay safe, the association suggests people should attend shows presented by professionals rather than use consumer fireworks on their own. If you are using fireworks at home, keep a close eye on children as they usually account for one-third of the injuries.
To read his full Instagram post, please visit his profile HERE.
Photo: By Mike Morbeck – originally posted to Flickr as Jason Pierre-Paul, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jason_Pierre-Paul#/media/File:2012_Packers_vs_Giants_-_Jason_Pierre-Paul.jpg