A San Antonio football legend has passed away far too young and has done so in rather terrible fashion.
According to a breaking news report from KENS 5 News, former Pittsburgh Steelers' defensive end Gabriel “Gabe” Rivera has passed away, he was only 57 years of age. Rivera's wife, Nancy Rivera, confirmed the news on Tuesday revealing that her husband has passed away at some point on Monday.
"Gabriel went home to the Lord at 9:25," she wrote in a text as per KENS 5.
It seemed like it was only a matter of time for the former Steeler, on Monday Nancy had informed the public that his condition had gotten so bad that he had been taken into hospice care. Hospice care is usually a sign that the patient is on the verge of passing and rather than treating the illness the staff attends to the needs of the individual to make their final days as comfortable as possible.
“He has a perforated bowel, a perforated colon, and doctors can’t perform surgery because he has no stomach muscle,” she said. “He’s getting ready to go into hospice care.”
Rivera's career as a Steeler was permanently derailed when he got behind the wheel of a car in October of 1983, a decision that would forever change his life. The then 22 year old man was legally intoxicated at the time of the collision and reports suggest that Rivera crossed the center line of the road before crashing into another vehicle. This would indicate that he was at fault for the accident and although the other driver was relatively unharmed, Rivera's life was turned upside down.
The young defensive end was not wearing a seat belt at the time and he was ejected from his vehicle upon impact, resulting in a severe spinal injury that forever stripped him of the use of his limbs. Rivera spent the remainder of his life as a quadriplegic, never played football again and never even walked again, his example serving as a harsh lesson for an entire generation of young men in Pittsburgh.
Rivera did not let the injury destroy him however, he continued to work hard throughout his life mentoring and tutor inner city kids in an attempt to give them a better quality of life than the one he enjoyed. The decision to give so much of himself despite his debilitating injuries and condition seemed to help heal his soul if not his body in the latter stages of his life.
"When I first got injured, I had hope that I would walk again," Rivera said in a 2014 interview. "I still have hope, but now I just live my life and keep going. If it happens, it happens. I enjoy life. Do the best with the life you have."
Obviously his passing at such a young age is very tragic, but there's no question that his severe spinal injury is what led to the deterioration of his body over time and caused his untimely demise. Once again Rivera's life serves a harsh example of what our decisions can lead to if we are not careful, and that, along with his charitable work, is what he should be remembered for, not the mistakes he made.
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