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Student finds strength after car accident

Jaylen Brown, a senior exercise science major, is hoping his story can inspire others. 

Jaylen Brown says he’s just an ordinary guy who beat death.

 The Winston-Salem State University (WSSU) senior’s life changed on Dec. 19 on a two-lane road near Mooresville. He was hit head-on when a driver veered into his lane.

“All I remember are the white lights,” he says.

After that, he lost consciousness. When he gained consciousness, he couldn’t feel his legs. Brown, an exercise science major from Salisbury, had suffered a broken hip and pelvis. He was transported to the hospital and quickly underwent seven hours of surgeries with a team of seven doctors.

Doctors stabilized the breaks by inserting metal rod and eight pins.

“The whole time, I was blessed with the fact that I was alive,” he says. “God pulled me through. I felt that blessing for sure.”

He returned home in Salisbury just after Christmas bound by a wheelchair.

Back to Campus

Brown was still recovering in January, but for he and his parents, there wasn’t even a question about whether he would continue his education at WSSU as a full-time student.

His father, Edward Brown, took a leave of absence from work for four months to drive Brown from Salisbury to Winston-Salem and back home. His mother, Tameka Brown, also left work early to care for him in the evenings.

“Life didn’t pause,” he says, “My focus point remained on my education.”

Jaylen Brown with his family. From left: Edward Brown (father), Tamia Brown (sister), Tameka Brown (mother), and Latasha Brown (sister).  

During the semester, there also were two viral videos that showed the support he’d received from fellow Rams and his own determination.

The first was in early February during a basketball game at the Gaines Center when a song came on and he just felt like celebrating.

A second occurred on the week before spring break at his doctor’s office where a camera phone captured Brown taking his first steps since the accident.

Faith, Family and Friends

Just before the accident, on Dec. 3, Brown crossed to become a member of the Mighty Mu Epsilon Chapter of Omega Psi Phi, the WSSU campus chapter. 

Brown says the support from his line brothers, his faith and his family also made the difference.

“The fact that people were telling me that I inspire them, giving them motivation to appreciate the small things in life,” he says. “There was times when all of us wanted to give up; it was definitely challenging,” he says.

He says he read scripture every day and gained inspiration from Hebrews 11:1: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

Brown says his relationship with his parents has only gotten stronger over the past few months.

He also had help along the way from another Ram. Oscar Ball III, who earned his master’s degree in occupational therapy from WSSU in 2012, was his occupational therapist.

“He was there for me as soon as the accident occurred,” he says. “He helped me with everything.”

Helping Others

He also says he wants to be a voice for those who are permanently disabled. He says he saw how something as simple as a crack in the floor can cause problems for someone in a wheelchair.

The aspiring physical therapist says his experience has increased his awareness and will help him better understand his patients.

About Jaylen Brown
  • Major: Exercise science (plans to continue his education in WSSU’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program)
  • Hometown: Salisbury
  • Year: Senior
  • Organizations: SGA freshman, sophomore and junior years; served as SGA chief of staff (2018-19); Mighty Mu Epsilon Chapter of Omega Psi Phi fraternity
  • Favorite activity: Working out in the gym

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