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Some good news: NJ entrepreneur makes a difference

By Kristen Hunt
Staff Writer

Paralyzed former football player launches coffee company, spreading a positive message

Former Rutgers University football player Eric LeGrand faced a life-altering injury when he was 20 years old. Doctors told him he would never be able to live a normal life. But living with paralysis has not stopped him from leading an extraordinary life — all while inspiring others with his new company, LeGrand Coffee House.

The former athlete launched LeGrand Coffee House in January of this year, an online coffee shop that he plans to turn into a physical location in the summer. Currently, the site is selling three types of coffee beans and a signature coffee mug with the company’s logo. The physical shop will be opening in his hometown of Woodbridge, New Jersey, and LeGrand plans on growing the business into something great. 

“We will prepare traditional coffee beverages to the highest standards, and we will serve those beverages in an inviting space that encourages our customers to socialize and relax,” the website states. 

In an interview with ABC News, LeGrand told the story of how his company was born, and what inspired him to go from football expert to entrepreneur. 

Eric LeGrand hopes to inspire others to reach their goals (Photo courtesy of @legrandcoffeehouse).

The company was born during the pandemic when LeGrand had time to reflect on his plans for the future. The athlete-turned-coffee shop owner tells ABC that he listened to inspirational audiobooks to fuel his motivation for success.   

“Covid had given me the opportunity to take a step back with my life,” LeGrand said. 

According to ABC, LeGrand was largely inspired to open LeGrand Coffee Shop after reading “Shoe Dog,” a popular memoir by Nike’s CEO, Phil Knight. 

“He [Phil Knight] just inspired me to say, you know what? I’m gonna take that leap of faith, I’m gonna open up my own business,” said LeGrand. 

Before his injury, LeGrand’s life revolved around football. He played defensive tackle for the Rutgers football team. He recollects the moment in 2010 when he knew his life would be changed forever. 

 “We just had the game 17-17 in the fourth quarter with five minutes left,” he told ABC.

LeGrand tried to execute a great game move for his team, attempting an open-field tackle, when the top of his head violently collided with an opponent’s shoulder blade. 

“Next thing you know, I’m laying on the MetLife Stadium at the 25-yard line paralyzed,” LeGrand told ABC. His neck was broken.

According to a separate ABC News interview with LeGrand just a year after his injury, the former football star was told by doctors he had just a 5% chance of regaining neurological function, and wouldn’t be able to breathe without a ventilator. 

“I didn’t wanna hear about percentages,” his mother Karen LeGrand told ABC. “Because, in all honesty, my son is not a percentage.”

LeGrand proved doctors wrong, as he has been breathing without a ventilator for years, and he doesn’t plan on stopping there. LeGrand believes that he will walk again one day. But until then, he’s using his platform to inspire people like him, and warm people’s hearts like a hot cup of joe.

“The launch of LeGrand Coffee House is so much more than simply opening a coffee shop. It is a reminder that we can accomplish anything if we set our heart, mind, and focus on that goal”  LeGrand wrote on the company’s Instagram page.

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