The town of Jena, Louisiana, had made national headlines for all the wrong reasons with the whole “Jena Six” controversy. And the negative publicity became so bad for local football product Jason Hatcher that the Dallas Cowboys lineman decided to stop holding a youth football camp in his hometown.
But Hatcher had a change of heart when he heard the story of a former camp attendee who wanted to become a football star, but had his dreams dashed when he lost his leg in a shooting accident.
The FORT WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM tells the story of Cole Ashworth, a 14-year-old prospect who had attended Hatcher’s camp in the past. Back in January, Ashworth was driving to his uncle’s house when a hunting rifle fell to the vehicle’s floor & went off, hitting Cole in the left knee. Ten days and three surgeries later, Ashworth had to have the leg amputated.
Cole’s mother Sheila Ashworth decided to write a letter to Hatcher, hoping the Cowboys player could help her son overcome the shock of losing a promising career in football:
“All we ask is that you and your teammates please write and encourage him to keep fighting for his dream and encourage him to attend your football camp in June,” Sheila wrote. “All he needs is to hear it from men that share his same dream, even though it may never happen.”
Such a letter was enough to convince Hatcher to re-open his football camp in Jena. Although Cole couldn’t participate in the drills, Hatcher invited him to work at the camp. And the Cowboys player is pledging financial assistance to help Cole get a prosthetic leg that would allow him to at least play some limited sports.
“The main thing that touched my heart he’s trying to get a leg so he can continue to play sports,” Hatcher said. “It’s really an inspiration to me.”
And it’s cool to finally see some good news come out of Jena.