The hockey world – New England specifically – mourns the tragic death of Travis Roy, former Boston University hockey player who became paralyzed in his first game with the team in 1995. His story of courage and perseverance is known by millions as he left an everlasting memory with everyone he met.  

Just a week and 25 years after he was paralyzed, Roy has died of complications from his paralysis at the age of 45. He went in for surgery due to complications from being a quadriplegic. He had dealt with his hockey injuries in the spotlight of the public eye, but this battle was one he wanted to handle with his family and his closest friends. He didn’t want the community who had supported him for so long to worry, especially the paralyzed people and their families he had helped to worry about him. 

Roy was a freshman forward finally living his dream playing college hockey with BU in 1995 when he was paralyzed only 11 seconds into his first shift as a Terrier. Roy was paralyzed while attempting to hit a University of North Dakota player on the forecheck. Unfortunately, Roy ended up hitting the boards which ended in him becoming paralyzed. Thus, starting his next dream of helping others. 

Roy responded in an extraordinary way returning to BU within a year. He also established the Travis Roy Foundation to help those with spinal cord injuries when he was just 21. He helped raise more than of $9 million over the year all while traveling as a motivational speaker.  

Wherever he went whether it be a school, hockey rink or a big city, he always brought his happy-go-lucky attitude. He always was willing to share his story, meet kids and answer all sorts of questions they had as he tried to give them a little perspective on life.  

Losing Roy weighed heavily for the sports world, and tributes to the former Terrier began to poor in on social media as the word spread. 

“It is with heavy hearts that we mourn the passing of Travis Roy. 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,” said Boston University in a statement. 

BU also added, “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 colleague.”  

PHOTO COURTESY OF JACKIE RICCIARDI