Sports Spotlight: After 22 surgeries and loss of his leg, Parker Byrd is focused on realizing his dream to play for ECU

“Just because I lost a leg, doesn’t mean I’ve lost hope, or I’ve lost my heart”
Published: Oct. 4, 2022 at 6:22 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - Parker Byrd is a freshman infielder on the ECU baseball roster. He was severely injured in a boat accident this summer. It has completely changed his, and his family’s, lives.

The now Greenville residents have faced down major challenges since the accident. Parker some how has done it with a smile. We feature him in this week’s Pepsi Sports Spotlight.

“I knew I was dying in the helicopter for sure. I felt my energy leaving my body,” say Parker Byrd, “It was kind of like my body was, my soul was like up and my body was still there and I was just kind of like laying there.”

ECU baseball freshman to be Parker Byrd had his life changed in an instant tubing with his friends this summer.

“I was swimming towards the boat and it came back. Ran over me almost,” Parker says, “I pushed off the back with my left hand, and he got my right leg pretty good, and then he got my left leg a little too, but more in my right. I felt it happen but I was kind of in shock. Just all the adrenaline

Saved in the water by one of his friends. They used shirts to tie off his cut legs. Eventually a nearby boat came to the rescue.

“So, the boat that transferred me had an a nurse on it,” says Parker, “She was just trying to keep me there. She was tying more tourniquets around my legs and stuff.”

They transported Parker to the marina, then the hospital in Washington, and finally by air to Greenville.

“His girlfriend called us and said ‘Get to Greenville, I think Parker is dying’,” says Parker’s mother Mitzi Byrd, “and I mean he was.”

His parents, who both have medical degrees from ECU, were two and a half hours away.

“I think about that day a lot,” says Parker’s father Jeff Byrd, “And like just like how… how getting that phone call just changed our whole world.”

ECU head baseball coach Cliff Godwin was there when the helicopter arrived. He’s been a constant support.

“Even from the very beginning I think he was one of the first people at the hospital. When everything happened and he’s been there the whole time,” says Parker, “He would go check up on me in the hospital when I was having my bad days he’s been great.”

Parker had 22 surgeries in 54 days following the accident .

“The first 15 felt like they happened every day,” says Parker.

“Back to back to back,” says Jeff, “But it averaged to be about every other day.”

His right leg injured so badly it had to be amputated.

“I know that everything happens for a reason and that God has a plan,” Parker says.

Who would have thought Facebook posts would be part of the plan.

“It kind of just took off,” says Mitzi.

Parker’s mom Mitzi began posting updates. Those updates led to prayers from around the world.

“Some of the surgeries that went bad, my husband would say put it on Facebook asked for prayer right now,” Mitzi says, “It would be 4 o’clock in the morning.”

“The power of prayer came through the community,” says Jeff, “When I say community just not Greenville, just not Laurinburg but from everywhere.”

The world saw Parker and the Byrd’s face adversity head on.

“Just two ordinary people with children that they love and I know they felt our pain and felt the pain for Parker,” says Jeff, “Whatever they could do, wherever they could wrap around us from the did.”

A power so strong, it worked. Parker did not end up losing his leg above his knee.

“Prosthetics are much better for below the knee,” says Parker, “There’s a lot more movement and you basically can get near 100% with a prosthetic with the technology they have today.”

His love of the game remains.

“I had a toy,” says Parker, “I had a bat and it just swung around and round.”

“He wore a jersey, Full jersey and if he was Derek Jeter that day he would practice at shortstop but you couldn’t call him Parker he had to call him Derek,” says Jeff, “Parker truly is in love with baseball.”

That’s still his full drive now.

“Just because I lost a leg, doesn’t mean I’ve lost hope, or I’ve lost my heart,” Parker says, “So I’m just gonna try to do everything that I can just to get back onto the field.”

A kid who has yet to wear the purple and gold but already exemplifies every value ECU baseball holds.

“He’s a competitor,” says Mitzi, “I knew once he came to grips with it, he wasn’t going to let it stop him.”

One who doesn’t understand why people think he is an inspiration.

“A lot of people were folded,” says Jeff, “A lot of people would be like why me why did this happen to me? And you haven’t.”

It’s only a matter of time now...

“Everything is closed up,” says Parker, “Kind of back to 100% working out.”

...before Pirate nation hears... entering the game for ECU... Parker... Byrd.

“It’s wherever Coach Godwin wants me I guess,” says Parker.

Thank you to Youngs Physical Therapy and Sports Performance for working with us on the story.

The Byrd’s wanted to thank everyone for all the support they continue to receive.

Do you see something needing a correction? Email us!