Paraplegic Shares His Story


Jeff Stanek

Henry Miguel-Ramirez, senior

Advisor’s Note:  Henry Miguel-Ramirez just finished my Beginning Journalism class.  I gave him an option for his final exam: Write “your story,” or take the class final.  The result is both sad and uplifting, and I am thankful Henry allowed The Talon to share it with you.  


Hey. My name is Henry and I’m a paraplegic. I’m going to be telling you guys about my life from my freshman year to now.

I was going to Reynolds High School and was the linebacker and the right guard of the freshman football team. This was one of my better years–or at least the first semester was—and I was attending school every day, doing all my work in class, staying out of trouble, and most importantly making my parents proud of me.

Then came the second semester of my freshman year and this is when I started to make poor decisions. It was going good for a week until I made one of the biggest mistakes that I regret to this day–I decided to stop playing football, the sport that I been playing since fourth grade.

Once I stopped playing I didn’t care about staying healthy for the season or passing my classes to be able to play next season.  I started skipping three classes a day, which turned into skipping three days a week. When I was supposed to be in school me and a couple of friends would hang out at one of my friend’s older brother’s apartment.  He was a gang member and we smoked a ton of weed, and drank. My friends and I started to make it a regular thing to go there because we thought he was a cool person to be around as he would clown on us and we would clown on him, and he was old enough to get us drinks. Once he got comfortable around me he asked me, “So why’s a good little homie like you trying to kick it with the ‘barrio’ (neighborhood)?”

“Yea. FXXX it,” I said.

Once I made my decision I stopped talking to a lot of people that I played football with and started to hang out with other older people who were part of that gang, so they can know who I am and what I was about. The school year finally ended and summer time came. The summer went by really fast as I would just spend my day outside hanging out.

My sophomore year came and this was by far my worst year of my decision making. A week into the school year I finally proven myself to the gang of my loyalty to them and got my initiation into the gang. I was finally actually part of the gang, but it didn’t take long ‘til I got into another huge fight that almost led to a gang brawl at the high school during lunch. I was kicked out of the high school temporally–not because of the fight but also the school found out that I was involved in stealing beers multiple times at the Safeway by the high school.

I was given a second chance to come back to the high school when I went to the district office to have my hearing with them, but they wanted me to be in a drug and alcohol classes. I refused to be in the drug and alcohol classes so they denied me going back to the high school. 

When my dad told me that I wasn’t going back to the high school he was talking to me about how much I changed in a year; that I was never like this before. At the time I didn’t really care about what people had to say about me because I knew some of my old friends and family members would tell me that I changed. I was kicked out of school and had nothing but time to kill, so I would go over my friend’s house and smoke weed but, they wouldn’t want to smoke weed anymore because they would rather smoke meth.

They would offer it to me but I would say, “No. I’ll stick with my weed.”  But they kept on asking me every day and one day I finally gave in and decided to try it. It took me that one hit out of the meth pipe to start doing it often with my friends. I would be up all night, high off meth just staring outside my windows and my phone.  Not doing nothing. Just staring.

Summer finally came and I was out of control.  At this point I would be gone for two weeks, hanging out with friends drinking, smoking weed and meth every day. When I came back after being gone for weeks my older brother, sister and dad would talk to me telling me to stop doing what you are doing that something is going to happen to you one of these days.

My dad even told me that he´ll even buy me a car if I left my gang, but I told them that, “No I’m not going to leave.”

Summer was coming to an end, and it was four days before my birthday.

September 5th.  I remember waking up that day and having plans with a couple of my friends. We were driving around and drinking. At one point I remember it was night time already and next thing you know all you can hear is gunshots going off.  The next thing I know is I see one of friends drop to the ground. Teardrops start falling from my eyes. As I was trying to get my friend, who was dead, into the car a couple more gunshots went off and next thing you I know I fell to the ground. I couldn’t feel my legs anymore, and breathing was getting harder and harder each breath that I took. I eventually passed out from all the blood I lost.

Waking up in the ICU eight or nine hours later, with tubes going down my throat and telling myself, “Damn, I’m still alive.” Then as the doctors walked in and told me that I had a T 11 injury on my spinal cord because the bullet ripped through my nerve. Just hearing the fact that I had a good chance of never walking again got to me pretty hard, but has time passed by in the hospital I accepted that. After a month in the hospital I finally got approved to start physical rehab. The more time I spent in rehab, the more I came to realize that there is so much more that I can do with myself then just throwing my life away in the drugs and violence.

 After three months in the hospital, I finally got released and the first thing I did was called all my friends that were in my gang. We got together and I told them that I was out.  At first they all gave me the death look when I said that, but then they told me they understood. Ever since that day I left the gang I been enrolled in school, working hard to finish what I started in my first semester of my freshman year and that is to get my high school diploma.

Now I’m just one semester away from being the first one to get my high diploma from my three brothers and three sisters.

I’ve came a long way from the person I used to be and I can’t be more proud of myself.

This is my life story. I share it with you because I hope you don’t make the same mistakes I made and learn the hard way like the way I did.