Former Ole Miss football player Chucky Mullins was determined to live a normal life despite the injury that left him paralyzed.
His valiant struggle inspired fellow players, who set aside Mullins' No. 38 jersey to be worn in his memory, and fans all over the nation who donated more than $1 million for his care and rehabilitation.Mullins, paralyzed from the neck down during a game in 1989, was dressing for class Wednesday when he passed out and stopped breathing. He died Monday at a Memphis hospital from complications of a blood clot in his lungs, doctors said.
Mullins was 21.
"Chucky was a very special human being. He fought as long and as hard as humanly possible," Ole Miss Coach Billy Brewer said at Baptist Hospital, where he had come to visit with Mullins' family.
Funeral services were scheduled for 3 p.m. CDT Wednesday at Tad Smith Coliseum on the University of Mississippi campus. Mullins will be buried in his hometown of Russelville, Ala., the university said.
A defensive back, Mullins was injured on Oct. 28, 1989 while making a tackle in a game against Vanderbilt.
Doctors said Mullins would probably remain paralyzed from the neck down, but he vowed to make a life for himself and manage to regain some movement of his upper body. He returned to school this January.
Brewer said Mullins never gave up the struggle to make a life for himself.
"His courage and his determination are unequalled," Brewer said. "We are better people for having known him and we thank God for sending him to us even though it was for a short time."
Brewer said the Mullins family asked not to meet with reporters.