The sports world was rocked that fateful Fourth of July weekend when news spread that New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul was involved in a fireworks accident.  His condition was unknown and various “sources” gave different accounts, from he’s totally fine – to he lost his whole hand.  Then ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeted a photo of Pierre-Paul’s medical chart that showed that his right index finger had been amputated (Pierre-Paul later filed a lawsuit against ESPN and Schefter, it’s still pending).  Now, eight months after the accident, JPP shared his story with Sports Illustrated.

In the video interview, he recalled and even reenacted the fateful night that changed his life.

When he arrived at the hospital and before he succumbed to a state of semiconsciousness, he had one directive for his doctors. “Whatever y’all do, do not cut my hand off.”

Another big part of the story was the Giants being unable to see him at the hospital and given no update on his condition.  New York had placed its franchise tag on Pierre-Paul four months earlier and then offered a reported $60 million extension.  Many believed he did not fill the Giants in because he wanted to hold onto his leverage.  JPP refutes that claim, saying he didn’t even know Giants representatives came, his family had made that decision on his behalf.  “If I knew they were there, I’d be like, ‘Let ’em in,’” Pierre-Paul said.

When he got out of the hospital he began to train, often uploading videos on his Instagram account of his routine.  When he did meet with the Giants, JPP says he was welcomed by a supportive room—owner John Mara, general manager Jerry Reese and coach Tom Coughlin— who were eager to see him return to health.

JPP hadn’t fully returned to himself as he donned a huge club on his hand, but the Giants gave him a one-year show-me deal, payable up to $10.5 million, with $4.25 million guaranteed; damaged hand and all, a pass rusher such as Pierre-Paul is hard to find.

JPP says the incident has changed his way of thinking.  “I carry myself differently. I look at things differently. I try not to put myself in horrible situations anymore. I have a lot of people depending on me—even people I didn’t know depended on me,” said Pierre-Paul.  He doesn’t let it get him down however, “I could dwell on it, like, Damn, I wish I had that finger,” he says, “but when I look in the mirror, I’m happy. Thank the Lord—it could have been worse.”

His locker has two items that he believes will help him be an All-Pro again. One is special glove, custom-fitted by Under Armour, and the other is his hospital wristband, that reminds him of responsibility and mistakes, how they can turn a man to rubble or help shape him instead.

*photos in gallery above*

Check Sports Illustrated for more.


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