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Story published: 10-01-2013 • Print ArticleE-mail Story to a Friend

Crockett senior turns to school family during tough times for his real family

Above, a recent family photo of Cody Chambers, right, with his dad, Dave Chambers.

By Christopher Shields

For David Crockett High School football player Cody Chambers, adversity has defined his senior year at David Crockett High School. But with the lessons he has learned over the years from his father, Cody has refused to allow that adversity to define him.

“The greatest lesson my dad ever taught me was to never give up on anything,” Cody said. “I played baseball when I was a kid and I hated it. No matter how bad I wanted to quit, he would never let me.

“I never understood why back then, but now I realize that through life there is adversity. There are things that you won’t like, but you can’t give up. You have to keep going, keep fighting.”

On June 5, Cody and his father, Dave, a Washington County Sheriff’s Office deputy, were on their way home when they were involved in a traffic crash on Highway 11E in Jonesborough.

They were struck on the passenger side of their Jeep Wrangler, where Cody was riding. Both father and son were transported to the Johnson City Medical Center.

Cody sustained non-life threatening injuries. His father, however, suffered a broken neck and severe head trauma.

First responders to the accident believe Dave may have saved his son’s life by shielding him from the impact.

Cody was released from the hospital just a few days after the accident, but his father, initially in a coma and unable to breathe on his own, remains hospitalized, still suffering from brain damage caused in the wreck.

Yet the bond between father and son remains unbreakable. In fact, Cody says his relationship with his dad has been strengthened by the circumstances.

“My dad is my greatest inspiration,” Cody said. “He has always been there for me. He was a Desert Storm veteran, a police officer, just one of the greatest people you could ever meet and I have looked up to him for as long as I can remember.”

Over the course of the past four months, Dave Chambers has made slow progress. He began breathing on his own, his responsiveness increased and most recently, his neck brace was removed.

Cody, meanwhile, returned to the football practice field and then to school in August, a return to normalcy amid the most tumultuous time of his life.

Other aspects of his life have remained unchanged as well. He still enjoys hanging out with his friends and girlfriend, and going out to eat.

Football has been another outlet for Cody, a welcome distraction for the teenager.

“Football definitely helps keep my mind off of everything,” he said. “It’s really nice being able to just go out and play football.”

And his fellow Pioneers have been by his side from the moment they heard about the crash over the summer.

“The very next day after the wreck, the entire football team was at the hospital,” Cody recalled.

“I mean, for every single person to be there for me was really special. It’s something that I won’t ever forget.”

The crash and everything that has happened since have taught the 17-year-old some real life lessons.

“The wreck was really an eye opening experience,” Cody said. “I think now, more than ever, that I really appreciate what I have. My family means everything to me.”

He has also learned a great deal about himself.

“Through all of this, I have learned that I tend to hold things in,” Cody said. “There have been so many people who have been there for me.

“At first, I really kept to myself and avoided the entire situation, but you have to let people in because it really does help.”

Cody’s inner strength in dealing with the crash and its aftermath is a reflection, he says, of the example his father has set for him.

“I guess knowing that he is still here and fighting to recover, that if he can make it through all of that and still be here and still fighting, then that’s reason enough for me to remain hopeful,” he said.

Cody will graduate from Crockett in May 2014 and plans to attend college to major in biology or a related field.

As he closes one chapter of his life and moves on to another, he will undoubtedly take with him the many life lessons his father has taught him, especially that one out on the baseball diamond all those years ago — the importance of never giving up.

Dave continues to teach his son that lesson even today — as he continues to fight for his life at the hospital.