MANILA, Philippines -- Many had doubts that basketball player Eugene Tejada would be able to walk again, much less play, after dislocating his spine during a game against Red Bull five years ago.
"Roger [Yap] was going up for a lay up. I got the rebound, he got fouled. Simultaneously as I was falling Mick [Pennisi] fell on top of me… which left me paralyzed from the neck down. I lost my hands and everything. Thank God I got my left hand back. I lost everything," Tejada in an interview with "[email protected]" on Tuesday.
From being on the cusp of making a name for himself in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), Tejada was bedridden and was even put on a liquid diet of soup and Jello.
When he was finally able to realize the extent of the injury, depression came through the back door.
“As I was coming to hospital, I really thought I was gonna die 'cause I had a hard time breathing, vomit was stuck in my throat," he said.
There was no promise of ever getting better. And aside from losing his lower body, he also thought of taking his own life.
"The person that I thought that loved me was leaving so I basically stayed on my pills and was ready to take my life. I kinda like to push the pills away, as mad as it sounds that's actually what happened that night," he said of his ex-girlfriend.
But after years of therapy and intense prayers, Tejada is now back on his feet.
"Am I gonna put on this hard work if there's no outcome? In my head it's hard to push myself every morning. It's hard to get out of bed, it's hard to even take a shower... but seeing my family my friends support me, how can I give up on them when they haven't given up on me?" he said.
Tejada admits he is not overly religious.
But even before the incident, he said he believes there is a God.
Over the years, he also learned to forgive his ex-girlfriend and even Pennisi.
“I've forgiven her in my heart but I've never talked to her... I think it's okay. I mean, I hope she's doing well," he said.
The former athlete is even writing a book about his ordeal to inspire others who are also battling the same demons.
"I’m starting to write a book to inspire people in this world. I feel that my life is just beginning," he said.
He may not have lived up to his dreams of making it big in the basketball world, but Eugene Tejada is about to tell the world how it is outside of it.
"I thought basketball was my thing but I think I would make a stamp in this world much more," he said.