Richardson Feels the Support in Person

When Angelo Richardson signed with ASU, he was destined to be the jewel crown of the 2006 recruiting class. A tragic night in San Francisco in March of last year changed his life forever. Through the efforts of friends and Sun Devil fans, he's been making progress in his rehab. For the first time since his recruiting visit, he ventured to Tempe and we caught up with him before ASU's spring game.

Santa Rosa JC star Angelo Richardson was considered in many recruiting circles as the top junior college receiver in California in 2005. His deep friendship with his former high school teammate, and then ASU quarterback Sam Keller, led him to sign with the Sun Devils. It was hard to contain the excitement and the anticipation for his eventual arrival in Tempe and the boost he would provide for the maroon and gold wide receiver core.

Yesterday he did make it to Tempe, and was present on the field at Sun Devil stadium. Unfortunately for him, he never envisioned since his LOI signing last year that he be on campus in a wheelchair. Just a month after he inked his name on the dotted line, making him officially ASU-bound, he was struck by a stray bullet outside a party and his injury left him partially paralyzed due to swelling around his spinal cord.

"I really don't think about that day anymore," said Richardson. "I have a lot to look forward to with my seven month-old daughter Angelia. She motivates me to work hard and walk again one day. When asked what is specific are the daily challenges that he faces, Richardson replied that he has to account for extra time to complete any routine task. "Getting in and out of bed you have to prep," he said. "You have to make sure everything is ready before you do it."

Richardson also has to look forward to making Tempe his home for the next few years. He earned his Associates Degree, and since ASU vowed right after his accident that they will keep their scholarship pledge to him, he will attend classes this fall (majoring in business management with aspirations of being a sports agent) and of course be a regular at all the team's home games ("I just have to get my Sparky gear"). If the spring game is any indication, he will be a popular figure on the sidelines, as he was constantly surrounded by ASU personnel well-wishers and autograph seekers both before and after the game.

"It feels good being here, seeing the team and just feeling the support I'm getting from everybody," he remarked. "Campus looks the same, but the grass is all painted nice from last time I was here…the support I'm getting just blows me away. A lot of other schools would just forget about you because you can't play for them, but everyone here has been showing me the love and the fundraising has really helped me."

The fundraising came through the Angelo Richardson Fund founded by Sam's father Mike Keller and family friend Doug Mather. Thanks to generous donations of Sun Devil fans and Richardson's friends, the foundation was able to pay for the receiver's six weeks stay at one of the nation's leading rehab facilities for spinal cord injuries – Baltimore's Kennedy Krieger Institute. The foundation funds were able to keep him there just six weeks, but he has made some progress, as he took 100 consecutive steps with a walker. "My muscles are kind of getting stronger," he commented. "It's still a long way but I'm getting there."

Through out the coaching staff change at ASU, Richardson wasn't forgotten in large part because of Assistant Athletic Director for Football Operations Tom Kleinlein, who served on former coach Dirk Koetter's staff when Richardson signed with the Sun Devils. "TK has been great to me," said Richardson who received a number 2 jersey with his name on it from Kleinlein yesterday. "He always keeps in contact with me, letting me know what's going on. Coach Erickson was in contact with me right after he got hired, and I still keep in touch with Coach Koetter in Jacksonville. All the love I get from ASU just makes me work hard on getting better."

Richardson probably doesn't need any more external motivation in his quest of rehabilitation, but that's not to say that he wasn't touched by the letters and emails of support that he has received from the maroon and gold faithful while he was in the hospital right after his accident. "The most touching thing I got from an ASU fan was poem," he recalled. "It was all about keeping a positive attitude and that you can overcome anything. That was really cool."

And if anyone can clear the many hurdles that await him, it's a person with the perseverance and enthusiasm as Angelo Richardson.

Sun Devil Source Top Stories