Pleasant Hill teen returns to school after becoming paralyzed during wrestling match

Bay Area

PLEASANT HILL (KRON) — One day at a time, 18-year-old Ryan Joseph has been defying the odds.

With the help of a wheelchair, he’s regained his independence, returning to College Park High School as a senior now, still on track to graduate in May with his classmates.

He is two years removed from the day he broke his neck during a wrestling tournament, which left him paralyzed.

“Toughest part is just being away from all my friends. You know, I really love all these guys and girls, and you know, it just sucked being away from them so long,” he said. 

After spending time in the intensive care unit at John Muir Hospital in early 2018, Joseph then spent the next 22 months at Craig Hospital in Colorado.

His rehabilitation surpassed expectations.

At one point, his doctors cautioned his family he may never walk again.

“Good part, I guess, is you know, just knowing I could do something like this, I guess. Not that I’d want to do it again. If I’m not so messed up after this, then I feel like stuff usually works out for me. You know, so that’s just a good feeling,” Ryan Joseph said. 

The 18-year-old got back home a few days before Christmas.

His parents have remodeled their home in Walnut Creek to accomodate for Ryan’s needs moving forward.

“It’s been a lot more normal recently then the past two years,” said his dad, Tom Joseph. 

The Joseph’s went as far as to rent an apartment in Colorado to ensure family was with Ryan through his entire journey.

“I don’t want to say that he surprised me with his strength, but I’m definitely in awe,” his mom, Kristin Joseph, said. 

“We absolutely could not do this without the help from the community. Not just friends and family, but just strangers that have just come forward,” Tom Joseph said. 

After graduation, Ryan plans to attend Diablo Valley College across the street from his high school.

“I have no problem staying here for another couple. You know, kind of figure out what I want to do with my life. But for right now, I’m just happy to be back,” Ryan Joseph said. 

If you’d like to help with his recovery, click here for his GoFundMe page.

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