UK Fan and Former Football Player Develop Unlikely Friendship
08/22/2016 08:00 PM
Adversity is something plenty of athletes face.
For one UK fan, she faced plenty of her own adversity and developed some unique friendships along the way. Ahead of UK football season, Alex Otte sat down with cn|2 to share her story about how UK football helped her tackle adversity in her own life.
“When you’re 13 years old, you’re in middle school, which is awkward in itself. You just lost a leg, which makes you even weirder and middle school is just a horrible time for everyone I think,” Alex, now 19, explained.
Alex and Martavius Neloms have an unlikely friendship- one that might not exist had it not been for a terrible accident.
“I was sitting on a jet-ski on Lake Herrington when I was 13 and there was a bass boat going over 60 miles an hour…needless to say he was pretty intoxicated and so was the passenger in his boat, so they just went up over me,” Alex recalled.
“I thought it was horrific. I didn’t even think stuff like that actually happened,” Neloms added.
That incident changed Alex’s life forever.
“My brain started bleeding inside of my head, I broke my jaw in three places, I now have metal throughout my jaw,” She said pointing to her jawline. “And then I broke my neck from whip-lash. Broke my collarbone- I’m not sure how, lacerated my liver, shattered both of my femurs, because when I flew off the jet-ski I took both the handle bars with me and if you’ve seen a jet-ski you know how hard that is to do, and then the propeller came down on my leg so I lost my right leg.”
Alex was a UK fan prior to her accident and an athlete who loved to play basketball.
“About a year after the crash I went to John Calipari’s basketball camp, which is typically all boys, and I knew that going in, but I went to it because I played basketball for a lot of years, liked to prove people wrong- just went to go. I kind of fell all over myself, was kind of a mess,” Alex remembered. “I was standing in line for John Calipari’s autograph and Coach [Oliver] Rock came up to me, and I was limping just because I was tired and had been running all day and he said, ‘Can I ask what happened and why you’re so happy about it?’ and so I told him what happened and he asked if I would be interested in speaking to the football team.”
“She told us about her story and we pretty much just started hitting it off from there,” Neloms continued.
After that day, Alex befriended several UK men’s basketball players and football players, but her and Martavius had a special relationship from there on out.
“Being her big brother from when she was in middle school, to telling her ‘you’re not allowed to date boys’, now she’s dating boys and she’s in college,” Neloms said.
Now a UK sophomore, Alex is pursuing a career in sports journalism, and photographs the UK football team as a freelance photojournalist.
“For my 15th birthday, all I wanted to do was spend the day at football practice, so I went to football practice and my parents had given me a camera, so I was like ‘okay, might as well use it’, and then I was like ‘okay, I’m kind of good at this’,” Alex said.
Each of them, learned something from the other.
“It helped me stop complaining about the smallest things in life and I really learned from her, because she’s a strong individual and she keeps pushing and following her dreams,” Neloms said of his “adopted sister”.
“Watch whatever you want on the field, but until you actually get to know these guys and what incredible individuals they are, you’ll never learn to appreciate them,” Alex said of her “big brother”.
In addition to being a full time student, Alex also works 3 jobs including her freelance photography and works with Mother’s Against Drunk Driving (M.A.D.D.) to bring more awareness to the impact drinking and driving can have.