Truong Strong

Athlete escapes near death experience, makes miraculous comeback at Cerritos


Once a Division I hopeful, William Truong, cheated death after being deemed paralyzed after breaking his neck performing a backflip on a trampoline. Truong has since recovered and continues to make steps toward full strength everyday. Photo credit: Monique Nethington

Monique Nethington, Campus Life Copy Editor

First year student at Cerritos College, William Truong, returns two years after an injury to spinal cord.

Truong attended Esperanza High School in Anaheim, Calif.

He started his athletic career at the school playing football.

It was there that his coach, who was also the throwing coach for the track to team, took notice of him and asked him to go out for track.


Unlike football, throwing did not come naturally to him. But through that first year he trained everyday to make himself stronger and eventually became one of the top athletes on each of his teams.


His hard work and dedication did not go unnoticed. When his senior year had come around he earned a full football scholarship to West Point, in New York.

State of Mind

The days leading up to his accident were that of any high school senior about to graduate.


School was pretty much over and everyone was looking forward to the best summer vacation before everyone went their separate.


But before he could relax he had one more thing to take care of.


Troung had made his way CIF state championship for track and field.


While preparing for the last meet of his high school career he had a thought.


“That weekend going up to state I was just thinking that if I do something awesome I’m going to pop a backflip, or something, in front the thousands of people watching on tv,” he said.


So a few nights before the competition he was trying to learn little trick and flips.


While in the hotel room he was practicing on the bed when he pulled a little “stinger” in his neck.


That, however, did not stop him from wanting to do this amazing trick in front of live, national audience.


Finally, the day had arrived and he threw the best throw of his life earning him the third spot in the state competition.


“I was really pumped up,” Truong said, “But then I thought, no let’s chill out […] If I failed, it would’ve been embarrassing.”

So he opted out of doing the flip that day on a national stage, but the thought of doing a backflip period was still on his mind.

A Motherly Warning

The following night, after state, he went to a friends graduation party where he asked one his friends, who was a gymnast, to teach him how to do a backflip.


He learned all the mechanics and it seemed as though he was ready and about to do it that night.


However, Mon., June 9, 2014 was the day he would finally attempt the backflip.


Just three days before graduation and two days after placing third in state Truongs life was on the up and up.


Truong was on his way to the beach with a group of friends when they had to backtrack to his friend Jane Clyde’s house to pick up ice.


According to an interview with the OC Register Truongs sister, Amanda, recalled what their mother had to said to him before he left the house.


“‘Don’t do anything stupid… Don’t do anything stupid, like backflips,’” Amanda said.


Call it a coincidence, or mother’s intuition, but when his mother spoke those words there was no way she could’ve expected any of this to happen.

The Paralyzing Moment

So, while everyone else filed into the Clyde’s house Truong wandered into the backyard where he stumbled upon her trampoline.


What happens next he could not have prepared for it.


“I went to the trampoline and did two warm up jumps,” he said, “ I jumped backwards and I landed vertical.. On my neck.”


Truong was 6-foot-2, 250 pounds. All that weight came down on him and crush his spinal cord.


“Immediately I knew I was paralyzed… I couldn’t move… I couldn’t breathe for like 2 minutes. I was just lying there and waiting for someone to come out,” he said.


When his friends family came outside they almost didn’t to take him seriously because he was notorious for playing pranks like this in the past.


As one of his friends went to help move him something in him snapped and he barked, “Don’t touch me!”


From there he went straight to the hospital where it was determined that he broke his C5 and C6 cervical discs, and damaged the C7, C8 and T1 discs.


His dreams of playing football were all but gone.


When speaking to the OC register he said, “I was in complete and total denial […] I was supposed to all these great things.”


While in the hospital Truong missed the chance to walk in his graduation ceremony.


However his sister, Amanda, sporting her brother’s number 75 jersey stood in his place earning a standing ovation from the crowd as she accepted his diploma on his behalf.


The whole ordeal took the Truong family by surprise. Their bruting son they once compared to superman seemed all but helpless lying in his hospital bed.


“I was essentially like superman… Literally nothing hurt me,” he said.


When he came into the hospital he weighed exactly 250 pounds. The doctors said that if not for his size and stature there was a good chance he would not have made it through.

Road to Recovery

The recovery process was one that required time and patience.


“I was depressed for a long time and [they] had me on so many different medications that there were only so many moments of clarity.”


Out of the 11 days in the hospital he stated he only had two or three days of complete clarity.


As the days progressed he slowly started to gain mobility back into his body and by the fourth day he was able to start raising his soldiers.


He would do everything he could do in that given day to be able to move again.


“I did what [i was given] to my best ability until i was too fatigued, or i passed out,” he said.


He was soon transferred from the hospital to a rehab facility in Pomona where he learned to do everyday things like getting out of bed, eating and getting dressed.


After a little over a month after the accident Truong was able to walk on his own again and was soon afterwards discharged from the facility.


His progressed could only be considered as something like a miracle.


Once released, he immediately went back to powerlifting.


“I wasn’t strong anymore… I was just doing the same movements, a before, so my body could remember what it was doing.”


Even though he had been to other rehab facilities he felt that he made more progress just going back to what he was doing before the accident.


Since his final discharge he has been working on getting back to his normal self.
Although he faces the limitations of Brown-Sequard Syndrome, which he leaves one-side weaker than the other he still pushes through to be the best person and athlete he can be.


He has now transferred from Fullerton College to Cerritos College specifically to participate on the track team.

They have given him no limitations as to what he can and can’t do.


He just pushes through all the pain to exceed at the highest level of competition that he can.


Truong’s mind has been opened and he has learned to be grateful for everything he has.


With the support of all his friends and family he was able to overcome the adversity and come back feeling better than he has ever felt before.
“I told myself that you have to live with yourself for the rest of your life,” he said, “ Why do you have to lay here and sulk? When in reality you should be doing your best to get better for the people around you because they don’t want to see you like this.”