(NEW YORK) -- After being named “Mr. Baseball” for the state of California in his senior year of high school and turning down a chance to play pro ball to play for Arizona State, Cory Hahn thought he would undoubtedly end up playing professional baseball.
All that changed, however, in February 2011 when Hahn slid headfirst into second base while playing in his third game for Arizona State. Hahn hit his head on the knee of the opposing player and fractured his spinal cord.
“Next thing you know I’m on my side, I see the ball trickling into the outfield and I was like, ‘All right, let’s get up, go to third,’” Hahn told ABC's Good Morning America. “I just remembered, my body wouldn’t respond. I couldn’t get up.”
Hahn’s coach, Tim Esmay, recalled the incident, which left Hahn paralyzed from the chest down, as “one of the worst moments” of his coaching career.
“Sitting in the dugout, I remember just looking at him and he was just laying down and I was just hoping and praying that he was knocked out,” Esmay told GMA.
Hahn spent the next year in and out of hospitals and learning how to live life as a C-5 quadriplegic. He eventually returned to the baseball field as a player-coach.
“To have your dreams taken away, it’s difficult to cope with. It really is,” Hahn said.
Hahn’s fortunes changed Saturday when he got a call from the Arizona Diamondbacks that they had selected him in the 34th round of the Major League Baseball draft.
“It really is an exciting thing for me,” said Hahn, still pursuing his studies at Arizona State. “[It's] a tremendous honor just to have that back in my life and to know that I’ll be a part of the game.”
The Diamondbacks, who called the drafting an “emotional selection,” say they plan to employ Hahn full-time, possibly in baseball operations or scouting.
“You’ve got to be able to wake up every day and give it everything you’ve got,” Hahn said. “Never take things for granted because I’m a living testament to that.”
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