TARBORO, N.C. — High school sophomore Rodney Dickens, 16, is paralyzed from the waist down after a 7-hour surgery and was in critical condition Wednesday morning.
Dickens, a North Edgecombe High School football player, suffered a spinal injury Friday night when he tackled another player during a scrimmage.
Friends of the athlete say they are praying and waiting for his safe return to school.
"I've been up to the hospital every day to see Rodney, to see his parents. Rodney is just the bravest young man I've ever seen. He's so positive and he's made a lot of improvement the past couple of days," said North Edgecombe coach Raymond Cobb.
"We're hoping that he gets back and comes back real soon, and we're dedicating this season to him. Hopefully we'll go to Chapel Hill and get him a ring," said teammate Courtney Howington.
Dickens' mother says she is happy to see the outpouring of support and the friends visiting him in the hospital.