Josh Boyd called for a football at a recent Richland Northeast practice.
Once the ball was in his hands, the senior reared back and launched it 50 yards down the field to one of the RNE players. He repeated that feat seconds later and walked away with a big smile on his face.
“I still got it,” Boyd said, grinning from ear to ear.
While Boyd, a quarterback for the RNE football team, isn’t able to suit up for the Cavaliers, moments like this at practice show how much he still loves the game and being around his teammates.
“Never knew the Ridge View game was going to be my last game,” Boyd said. “I learned that you never know when your last chance is. I miss it. I watch sports, play games and go to a counselor and stay around it. I want to be around the team since I can’t play.”
It was just over a year ago that Boyd’s life changed.
On Oct. 10, 2018, Boyd was playing a pick-up basketball game at Sonny’s SportsPlex when he suffered a heart attack. He was fortunate to be playing basketball that day with members of the Columbia Fire Department — they immediately sprung into action and were able to get him to the hospital.
Boyd’s mother, Joyce, remembers getting the call about her son but doesn’t remember driving herself to the hospital to see her son. When she arrived, Joyce talked with a nurse and saw where her son was. They were performing chest compressions on him again.
“My heart exploded out of my body and I just prayed to God, ‘Don’t let my son die,’” Joyce Boyd said.
The prayers were answered, and three days later Josh had open-heart surgery in Charleston where a defibrillator was inserted into his body. Boyd was on the sidelines with his teammates for their game against York the following Friday.
After that, Boyd remained out of school for about three months and did his school work at home. He also started his rehab process, which included a couple trips back to Charleston.
Today, Boyd is back to lifting weights. He is squatting around 310 pounds and benching around 180 to 200 pounds.
But doctors ruled that Boyd, who also plays basketball, couldn’t play football again because of the contact.
Not being able to play football has been tough, Boyd said, and at first it was hard for him to watch it on TV. But he remains around the RNE program and is a regular at practice and on the sidelines Friday nights.
On occasion, Boyd puts on the headset like a coach would do on game day.
“Good for him to be around. The kids like it when he is around and they enjoy him,” first-year RNE football coach William Richardson said. “He is a positive part of the team. He is a pretty upbeat kid and never really gets down. He has the leader mentality for the kids.
“I told him to stay close to the game as long as you can. Maybe he can get involved as a student assistant. It is still fun for him and you can tell he enjoys being around here with the guys.”
Boyd hasn’t ruled out playing basketball. One of his doctors said it would be OK for him to play, but he isn’t sure, though he has been shooting in the gym and was around the team a lot last year.
Whether he plays sports again or not, Boyd plans on being around athletics and trying to make a difference in people’s lives.
He plans to go to Coastal Carolina after graduation and wants to be an orthodontist. He also might get involved with the CCU football team as a student assistant.
“This whole thing has taught me a lot and I’m thankful to God for everything he has done for me,” Boyd said. “I learned to be a better person, treat people right and got closer to God. I am just thankful to be here.”