Paralyzed Ill. athlete dies after 11-year fight

January 6, 2012 - 9:10 AM
Rockys Fight

FILE - In this April 5, 2011 file photo, Rocky Clark smiles in his bed at his home in Robbins, Ill. Clark, a former Eisenhower High School football player who was paralyzed from the neck down when he was tackled during a game in 2000, died at a suburban Chicago hospital on Thursday, Jan. 5, 2012, hospital officials said. He was 27. A hospital spokesperson said Clark died after undergoing surgery, but the cause of death wasn't immediately known. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green, File)

ROBBINS, Ill. (AP) — A former suburban Chicago high school football player who was paralyzed from the neck down when he was tackled during a game in 2000 has died.

Ingalls Memorial Hospital spokeswoman Susan Fine says Rasul "Rocky" Clark died Thursday evening. Clark's pastor, the Rev. Anthony Williams of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Robbins, tells the Chicago Sun-Times the 27-year-old was surrounded by family members when he died.

Clark was a junior running back for the Eisenhower High School in Blue Island when his head hit the ground in a tackle during a game against Oak Forest High School.

Clark's neck was broken in two places and he was hospitalized for nine months.

Nonetheless, he graduated high school. Robbins says he had "a will and a spirit beyond human words."