Handsome, kind, successful, and roughly four feet tall. Michael Crawford has accomplished many things, from law school, to traveling the world, then becoming a father. But what makes him different? He has done these things without the use of half of his body. Michael Crawford, known as Mike by his family and expansive group of friends, was born on September 12, 1963 in Tyler, TX. He has always lived in Tyler except for the few years he spent in Waco during college and early adulthood. He speaks fondly of Tyler describing the community there as being a family. His childhood and time spent in early high school was ideal.
He was attractive, athletic, and popular with his peers. During the spring premiere football game in May of his sophomore year, the course of his life altered. Within the first 15 minutes of the game, he was playing defensive back when he went in for a tackle and came to on his back. He recalls it feeling as though his head was severed from the rest of his tingling feeling body. Medical Helicopter then transported him directly from the field to a hospital in Dallas where the doctors determined that his neck had been broken and his spinal cord has been severed.
This accident left Mike paralyzed from the mid chest-down. After multiple procedures and months of rehab he was able to gain the use of both of his arms and most use of his left hand, but he would spend the rest of his life confined to a wheelchair. Mike was now faced a future that looked very different than what he imagined. He was happy to return to high school in November of his junior year. Having been relatively popular at a large school, the transition was not too difficult. His peers and teachers knew him, his family, and his story well so they were more than happy to help him in anyway.
College was another story. It was difficult to transition to a new place where no one knew him or what had happened. Mike spoke of his freshman year at SMU saying, “I was just the scrawny kid in the wheelchair. ” SMU was his school of choice because it was one of the two schools in Texas that were handicap accessible and because one of his friends offered to live and care with him. While at SMU, he made many friends even joined a fraternity, but he did not feel a sense of community there. He decided to transfer to Baylor during his sophomore year.
While at Baylor, Mike was pre-law with a major in Real Estate. Baylor Law School was an easy choice. He loved Baylor and all the opportunities it gave him. During law school, he was able to study abroad in London and Scotland, even making a weekend trip over to Switzerland. There were many things that he was unable to do purely because he was not physically able or things were not handicap accessible. Still, he spoke very fondly of this time saying “it changed everything. ” Some of his friends helped him overcome his barriers by carrying him up to Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh, Scotland.
After graduating from Baylor Law School, Mike returned to Tyler and began to practice as a civil trial lawyer. He has had much success as a lawyer, overcoming adversity and proving people wrong. One of the cases he is most proud of happened very early in his career. Right after law school, he was volunteering for a federal judge in what they call a prison case, which entails him arguing a prisoner’s case filed against a prison guard. Lawyers never win these cases; they do them purely to gain experience and to network.
They considerate a success if the jury discussed your case for more than five minutes. Mike won his case and was the first in his district to do so. This accomplishment shocked everyone who heard, especially the judge. While Mike has had much success in the professional, he considers his biggest accomplishment to be marrying his wife, Leslie. They met during a church service in Tyler. He considers her to be an answer to prayer, as he remembers the nights in college he would pray “Lord, you know how badly I want to get married and have a family, I don’t know how you are going to do that.
Please help her not to be bothered by the wheel chair and make her beautiful. ” They were married in Tyler and had over 600 people came to their wedding. The people of Tyler were all excited to see Mike succeed. God also answered the second part of Mike’s prayer by providing them with a daughter, Abby who is currently a junior at Baylor. Mike has lived a life fuller than most while only having control over half of his body. When asked how he accomplished all he has and over came it, he replied “Life is hard on all of us for all different reasons but God is faithful. ”