CUSHING, Okla. -- Grab the tissues! We first told you about Billy Simpson in January, after he was injured at wrestling practice at Cushing High School. Doctors expected the teenager to be quadriplegic, but a miracle saved his life. Now, he’s back on the mat but in a different role.
Flowers are just starting to bloom, it's a sign spring is on the way. For the town of Cushing, that means it’s time to practice.
“You want the sweat rolling off your face," Billy Simpson said. “It’s like a sense of pride. Most people in the world are never going to go through a wrestling practice or are never going to be able to make it through one and I did that.”
The orange locker room is the first stop before stepping on the mat. Billy Simpson opens his locker to the only world he truly loves.
“Some of those guys in there I’ve been friends with since I was six-years-old," the 18-year-old said.
It's a world Billy’s grandfather brought to Cushing and turned into a powerhouse.
"My dad wrestled and he started the wrestling program in Cushing back in the 70s," Billy's father Kasey Simpson said.
Bill Simpson started the program through the youth center, a sport both of Billy’s grandparents adored. His grandmother sewed every uniform.
“At a tournament I bought a wrestling uniform and so I made a pattern for each boy in the different sizes and I made the wrestling uniforms from that," Billy's grandmother Barbara Simpson-Rollins said.
It’s hard to miss the Simpson name on the wall of fame. Billy’s father, cousin and of course Billy are all on an orange plaque.
“He started wrestling as soon as he came out of the womb," Kasey Simpson said.
The senior was set to wrestle at a division one school in North Carolina, but that dream shattered just days before Christmas.
“I was probably even screaming in his ear a little bit, go harder, go harder, a little bite more, a little bit more," Cushing High School wrestling coach Laddie Rupp said. "Then it all happened in the blink of an eye.”
The teenager was rushed to the emergency room..
“On December 22nd that night, they said I was never going to move again," Billy Simpson said.
The teenager was diagnosed with a bruised spinal cord and doctors weren't hopeful Billy would feel his arms or legs again.
“When I was in the hospital, I wasn’t thinking I was never going to wrestle, I was thinking I may never walk again," the Cushing senior said.
After weeks at OU-Medical Center in Oklahoma City, Simpson flew to a rehabilitation center in Colorado.
“It was just a rapid change," Billy's mom Laura Simpson said. "It was hard to keep up with. Everyday he was a new patient. What he couldn’t do one day, the next day he mastered.”
The 18-year-old learned to walk, regain strength on his right side and use his hand to do something as simple as writing.
“Probably his parents being physical therapists and in rehab we pick out all the same things that a lot of people don’t see," Billy's father said.
Kasey and Laura Simpson, Billy's parents, were not only there for emotional support but also physical support. They own a wellness center in Cushing with state of the art equipment to help patients of their own with injuries. It's almost as if a sign from God that their son would need their help.
“Be still and know that I am God is one of the bible versus that we’ve held onto through all of this," Kasey Simpson said.
Faith is the only answer as to why he still exists.
"You get in this situation and you think is he there?" the teenager said. "Then coming out of it you know he’s there.”
But don’t be fooled. Simpson makes almost every practice. His presence is addicting.
“Once he was healthy, immediately he was in the wrestling room," Rupp said. "He was going to tournaments with the guys, he was helping coach and help guide the guys. Not only from a technique point of a view but also from the mindset side of wrestling.”
It's a sport that teaches some of life’s best lessons.
“Wrestling has taught him to be dedicated to things, be committed to things," Rupp said. "I think he really choose to be dedicated to getting better.”
Now, Billy sits in the same spot where it all ended...
“I started on that mat and went forward, then got lifted and came right on my neck in that circle," he said.
But now, he has a new beginning and a different story to tell.
"God gave me all of my limbs back, it’s the least I can do," the teenager said.
This tiger is headed to Oral Roberts University, with a new dream of motivational speaking.
“There’s a lot more to life than wrestling,” Simpson said.
Although the words may have been hard to say, and the realization his name won’t be on another orange plaque, he’s an inspiration.
“God is using him for amazing ways to spread his word and with his injury," Billy's sister Khloe Simpson said. "Billy is going to do wonderful things within his life.
He's a man of character.
“I think that’s what we all think of when we hear Billy Simpson," Cushing High School Athletic Director Barry Patterson said.
Forever a champion sitting next to his grandfather in a glass case inside the Cushing High School gym...
“I’m sure I’ll get back to wrestling around and stuff eventually but probably never to the competitive point of like getting hurt," Simpson said.
A name not only the 8,000 people know in the city know as the Pipeline Crossroads of the World, but across the country.
“You don’t realize all the support you’re getting when you’re doing fine and life is going well, but when you’re laying in a bed, not moving and so many people are thinking of you and you don’t even know," Simpson said. "People in my community calling their cousins in Alabama and Florida and all over the country.”
The Simpson name will always be a legacy in the Cushing wrestling world.
“Wrestling will always be apart of my life," the 18-year-old said.
But the teenager, has his mind and heart set on creating his own Simpson legacy.
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