Thursday, April 28, 2011

My Visit to See Rocky Clark


by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Your Black WorldScholarship in Action 

Today, I stood in the presence of a true soldier. I went to the hospital in Chicago to visit Rasul “Rocky” Clark, the young brother who was paralyzed 10 years ago in a football accident at the age of 16. Rocky was paralyzed from the neck down, only able to move his head and nothing else. His legs and arms are thinner than anything I’ve ever seen, he can barely breathe, and he’s dying right now because his insurance company decided to kill his policy.

Rocky’s mother, Annette, has stood by her son day-in and day-out every single day since the accident. She has a bed right next to him in the hospital and repeatedly told me that “I’m not gonna leave my baby.” Every normal day seems to be abnormally tragic, with nurses cleaning bacteria out of Rocky’s one remaining lung, and the young man quietly repeating the words, “Mama, I can’t breathe.”

I cried when I stood with Rocky’s mother, because I connected to a piece of her pain. I thought about the fact that Rocky is the same age as my own brother, and I would be torn to pieces after seeing my brother in such a devastating situation. Rocky could barely speak, but he spoke with the wisdom of a man who’d been sitting in the same spot and only able to move his head since the year 2000.  He told me about the importance of continuing to fight and never taking life for granted.  He also told me that he believes no person on earth should have to go through such an experience without adequate healthcare coverage.

In the interview below, I speak with Rocky’s mother as she describes how her insurance company, “Health Special Risk, Inc.” sent her a two sentence letter letting her know that her son’s policy had hit it’s $5 million dollar cap. She also mentioned how Rocky’s school, Eisenhower High School in Blue Island, Illinois, had no problem using this young black man as a piece of athletic meat, but care almost nothing for him as he lies in the hospital about to die from their negligence. Administrators told Rocky and his mother that he had a lifetime policy, but now everyone threw their hands in the air when it was determined that the policy only covered $5 million dollars or the rest of your life, whichever one comes first. Please visit to join our coalition to help this young man, and I advise all parents to understand what their kids are getting into when they play the sports that are marketed to our young children.

Our conversation is below. Yes, the video quality is not very good, but I had to record this by any means necessary. Rocky’s story needs to be told somehow – I hope you will help me share it.



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