Video from SI.com
After months of secrecy, former USF football standout and current New York Giant Jason Pierre-Paul has broken his silence. The Pro Bowl defensive end opened up to Sports Illustrated regarding a Fourth of July fireworks accident that left Pierre-Paul’s left hand in shambles.
In an interview with SI’s Jason Buckland, which was published on April 12, Pierre Paul went into excruciating detail about the events and the countless surgeries that followed.
“He glanced down. The street had gone black again, but Pierre-Paul could make out a sight far more gruesome and shocking than anything he’d ever glimpsed on a football field. “I’m looking at my [right] hand and I’m seeing every ligament,” (Pierre-Paul recalls. “You only see this stuff in the movies.”
Pierre Paul told SI that he purchased nearly $1,100 in fireworks for a family gathering as he does every year. Towards the end of the night, just before leaving, Pierre-Paul said he bent down to light one last explosive before turning in.
This decision would have lifelong consequences that would alter his career.
“Right when I heard the boom I jumped,” Pierre-Paul told SI. “In couldn’t see anything, it was just white.”
The explosion caused immense damage to Pierre-Paul’s hand with some of his fingers hanging on by shreds of ligaments.
“A friend named Tarvarus Jackson drove, weaving south on I-95 and blowing through whatever traffic lights impeded him, the 15-minute ride to Broward Health North hospital in Deerfield Beach taking just five,” Buckland writes. “At his side, Pierre-Paul’s mind raced: Would he lose his career? His hand? He was hemorrhaging a lot of blood; would Josiah lose his father?
“Damn, Pierre-Paul remembers telling himself as the hospital came into view. I messed up.”
It took 2 1/2 weeks and an initial eight surgeries to reassemble his hand. He has had two more since being discharged.
Pierre-Paul was a fixture on the Giants defensive front, amassing 43 sacks in his first five seasons. He was able to return to the field in 2015, but a clubbed hand hindered his once monstrous playing style.
The 6-foot-5, 278-pound edge rusher had just one sack in seven games following his return.
His football career was initially believed to be over. According to the Article, one doctor told his fiancée, Farrow Germain, that he would never play football again. But once hand specialists took a look, they were able to find a way to save his hand and career.
“Pierre-Paul was rushed into surgery, where more than a dozen pins were inserted to stabilize his injury, which included a broken thumb, an index finger that would most likely require amputation, a middle finger that would never be the same and a charred palm in need of multiple skin grafts,” Buckalnd writes. “Horrifying photos of the aftermath, including those following Pierre-Paul's final skin graft, show a tattoo, once on the football star's forearm, now transplanted to the area surrounding his damaged middle finger.”
After the horrific dust had settled on this unfortunate event, Pierre-Paul is left with a constant reminder of that night. His hand, now with only four fingers after his index finger was amputated, marred with scars and burn marks.
But at the end of the day, he can still take the field on Sundays and to him, that’s all that matters.
“When I look in the mirror, I’m happy,” he told SI. “Thank the Lord—it could have been worse.”