Buddy Lamothe's arm once powered his high school team to a state championship. At San Jacinto College, this closer threw 95 miles an hour.
Now he's struggling in physical therapy at Houston's TIRR Memorial Hermann Hospital, where Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., was treated after being shot in the head in January.
"My arms are shaking -- I don't know if you can tell," he said during a physical therapy session recently. "It's real tough."
"All I can remember is screaming, 'My neck is broken!' and I couldn't feel my legs," he said. Because his family has no health insurance, he can only afford three weeks at TIRR. His friends created a website seeking donations for him.
Houston Astros Draft Lamothe
Doctors told Lamothe there was a 5 percent chance he'd ever walk again.
"It was tougher to hear I wouldn't play baseball than it was that I wouldn't walk again," Lamothe said.
But then Lamothe got a call from the Houston Astros, which wanted to draft him despite the accident.
"I said, 'You do know about the injury, right? Don't you?'" said his mother, Michelle Lamothe.
The team took Lamothe in the 40th round after it had the players it needed. Yet as improbable as Lamothe's possible journey to the Major Leagues may seem, he is not the only one on it.
The University of Georgia's Johnathan Taylor collided with a teammate and broke his neck in March. This season, he was picked up by the Texas Rangers.
"My whole goal is to get back here and play baseball again," Taylor said.
In Lamothe and Taylor's cases, the idea to draft them came from the Major League scouts who discovered them.
"In the end, it is America's game and we take care of each other," said Rusty Pendergrass, a scout for the Astros. "It's a long road to get healthy, but anything is possible."
"Until the day they say, 'You will never walk again,' I'm not gonna stop trying," Lamothe said.