If this is Wednesday, that must mean Devon Gales is about to get a visitor from UGA.
Sure enough, late in the afternoon, in through Gales’ door at the Shepherd Center strolled the Georgia Bulldogs program coordinator Bryant Gantt. The advisor to Bulldogs players and the Southern University receiver paralyzed in a Sept. 26 game at Georgia have developed a particularly close bond.
Gales calls Gantt his “godfather.” Gantt calls Gales “an inspiration.”
Every Wednesday, Gantt drives in from Athens to visit Gales as he continues his rehabilitation at Atlanta’s Shepherd Center. Suffering a fractured neck in a collision with Georgia kicker Marshall Morgan while on kickoff return duty for Southern, Gales was paralyzed. A full story on his rehab and his amazingly positive outlook will appear in Sunday’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Every wall in Gales’ room at the Shepherd Center is covered in get-well cards, many from a Georgia fan base that has taken a personal interest in his recovery.
Gantt, himself a former late 1980s vintage Bulldogs player, has become the most visible bridge between the Georgia program and the injured player far from his home in Baton Rouge, La.
It was that way ever since Gantt visited Gales in Athens shortly after the injury, just before he was moved to Atlanta.
“I went in and spent a little time with him and I asked him if I could say a prayer for him,” Gantt said. “I was asking God to be with him and give him strength. And when I finished he looked up at me – he didn’t cry but he was a little watery-eyed – and said, ‘Coach I appreciate that. You never know what that meant to me.’
“I thought wow this is a special kid. He’s laying here not knowing what his next minute brings and he’s appreciating someone praying for him.”
Gantt has made it a point to visit Gales every week. He has helped feed him early in his rehab, has gone along on an outing to a fast food restaurant with him and other patients. “Now he’s like a part of the family, like a son,” Gantt said.
And Gantt does not return to Athens empty-handed. There’s always a message to pass along to the Bulldogs from Gales.
“He’s always sending messages: ‘Gantt tell those boys they better tighten up. Tell those boys don’t give up. Tell those boys to keep working, keep playing as a team.’”
“That’s an inspiration for us,” Gantt added. “He’s up here in his bed, doesn’t know his next move and he’s encouraging us as a team to keep fighting, keep going. That’s really touching.”