One year after accident, Bobby Roundtree is working hard on his body — and on our minds
The former Illinois football standout is tweeting videos of his workouts and sharing words of inspiration with his followers as he battles back from a severe spinal injury.
On May 1, Bobby Roundtree tweeted a workout video along with a three-word promise:
‘‘I won’t stop.’’
There appears to be no stopping Roundtree, the former Illinois defensive end who suffered a severe spinal injury in a swimming accident in May 2019 near his home in Largo, Florida.
Roundtree, 22, hasn’t played since his sophomore season, when he won the team’s Dick Butkus Award as its defensive MVP. Once a promising NFL prospect, he has traded his football goals for this enormous one: to walk again.
He already told you he isn’t going to stop.
‘‘Don’t know what QUIT means,’’ he tweeted May 4.
To what extent Roundtree is paralyzed has been an evolving matter. Since his accident, he has used his arms more than some near him initially expected. And those arms, which once enabled him to rip through the blocks of offensive tackles, keep getting stronger. More recently, he has gained at least some movement in his legs, too.
Roundtree hasn’t done any media in the last year, but he’s expected to join reporters for a Zoom call this week.
Not that he has waited to get his message out there. His Twitter account is one motivational message and workout video after another.
In the first video this month, he worked his biceps on a pulldown machine, with hooks connecting his wrists to the bar. In the second video, he worked his pectorals and deltoids while lying on his back.
On May 6, a video captured Roundtree in an upright position, aided by a device called a standing frame, as he said: ‘‘We’ve finally made it this far. There’s more to come, but, hey, it feels good.’’ He captioned it: ‘‘Steady climbing.’’
In the last couple of weeks, he has posted videos of himself pulling a bar up to his chin, using a bench press, pushing his upper body off a mat and more. And the words he has chosen have been truly wonderful.
‘‘Shocking myself every day.’’
‘‘All gas, no breaks.’’
Roundtree, on campus during the pandemic and receiving round-the-clock care, is an All-American in the effort department. He busts his butt to get to those workouts — by bus — at separate facilities in Urbana and Champaign.
One hunkered comfortably at home might imagine him out there — in a wheelchair and, yes, wearing a mask — taking on the world.
In a video Thursday, Roundtree worked out as Kevin Gates’ ‘‘Funny How’’ played in the background. That song includes a perfect lyric:
You my motivation
You the reason why I hustle now
On Monday — what a less healthy person might look at as a terrible anniversary — Roundtree tweeted a video of himself back at a lat pulldown machine, this time exercising his triceps and, it’s great to say, not using those hooks. Just gripping and ripping it, like anyone else would.
‘‘Today marks a year since the accident,’’ he wrote, ‘‘and still going strong.’’
Amen to that.
College basketball fans who’ve been around the block ought to remember Ken Burmeister, Loyola’s coach from 1994 to 1998. Burmeister died Tuesday after a bout with cancer. He was 72.
Burmeister, a Wisconsin native, arrived on the Chicago scene thanks to Joey Meyer, who added him to the DePaul staff in 1990. He was Texas-San Antonio’s coach in 1988, when the Roadrunners made their first NCAA Tournament (and lost to Illinois), and was back in San Antonio in 2006-18 as coach of Division II Incarnate Word.
‘‘One thing about Burmy, he was never hesitant with an opinion,’’ Meyer said. ‘‘He’d say straight out, ‘That guy can’t play’ or ‘This guy can play.’ ’’
Meyer laughed while recalling Burmeister’s look in the ’90s.
‘‘He was the Pat Riley of assistant coaches when he was with us — hair always slicked back, always perfect,’’ Meyer said. ‘‘You always knew when he was in the building.’’
Not a bad way to be remembered.
• Hey, speaking of the ’90s, can we really get through a whole column without a reference to ‘‘The Last Dance’’?
One point: Whatever your opinions of former Bulls general manager Jerry Krause are, you have to admit he was much better at picking players than Michael Jordan has been with the Wizards and Bobcats/Hornets. It’s not even close.
As execs go, Krause might not be the GOAT, but he sure as heck dunks all over MJ.
• If the hockey handshake line is at one end of the sportsmanship spectrum, then Jordan’s ‘‘farewell’’ to then-Pacers coach Larry Bird after the 1998 Eastern Conference finals has to be at the other.
Or maybe cursing at a legend whose heart you just broke and telling him to go work on his golf game is merely what friends do.
• PSA: It’s Scottie Pippen, people. Not Scottie Pippin.
Seriously, how is it possible that every other schmo on social media is misspelling Pippen’s last name? This isn’t Mitch Trubinsky we’re talking about. For crying out loud, it’s the second-best player in Bulls history. (Relax, Derek Rose fans. Relax.)