COLLIERVILLE, Tenn. (WREG) — December 5, 2020 changed Rico Schwartz’s life as he knew it. 

“I got hit at like 10-something, I got hit by a drunk driver,” said Schwaartz. “I was in a six-day coma. My whole right side was paralyzed. I don’t really know the words. It was difficult.” 

Schwartz suffered massive brain trauma in the car accident. After waking up from his six-day coma, basketball was the first thing on his mind. 

“If not the day of, then like the day after because I was already shooting. We had a like a little goal on the door. I was throwing the ball, I was doing my best.” 

But a return to basketball is something Schwartz feared he would never see. He first had to re-learn how to walk. 

“What if I don’t be able to use this, what if don’t change. My mom was like don’t think about that, blah blah you’ll see. And it happened, and when it happened, I was just amazed, like ‘oh wow this can really happen for me.’ I was excited.” 

After months of therapy, Schwartz was back on the court, but the battle to get cleared by the TSSAA to return to Collierville for his 5th year had just begun. 

“My senior year got taken for me. Literally I was hit on Saturday and my first game was that Tuesday.” 

The TSSAA ruled Schwartz ineligible and unable to suit up with his teammates this season. They overturned their ruling just before the start of the 2021-22 season. 

“It was definitely hard because I was like dang man, I really want to play basketball. And then my mom found a way, like she found a way to help me have a chance. So, I appreciate her for that.” 

Schwartz said surviving his car accident was his second chance at life and being able to be on the court with his teammates is an opportunity he won’t take for granted. 

“We’ve had two scrimmages and our first game was yesterday and every time before then I get real excited, real pumped because I’m not even supposed to be here. I’m supposed to not even be here and nether the less I’m not supposed to be playing. So, it’s just so exciting to just be a part of the team.” 

A spot on the team that wasn’t given to him, he had to earn it. 

“I’m very proud of what he’s done,” said Dragons head coach Cedric Henderson. “I respect what he’s done and all of the hard work. I’m just in awe sometimes to see him moving the way he’s moving and being from where he’s been. It’s pretty amazing. “He knows it’s a competitive sport and I respect that and he’s a very good teammate, that’s the biggest thing I like about him.” 

Schwartz’s story is an inspiration to the entire Collierville community, as they get to witness the first steps of his second chance.