David Edwards: The Essence of Madison Pride

  • Reported by James Arellano

The David Edwards Memorial Athletic Complex (DEMAC) stands proudly at the rear of our school, housing all the modern athletic facilities used by all sports departments. But many don’t know about the 21 year old story of the alumni that it’s named after,  his story of pride, perseverance, and passion.

In a 2007 bond, a 32 million dollar renovation proposal to construct a new fine arts and athletic facility was put into place. The proposal would be relocating the soccer, football, and tennis fields, and creating the Gilmore. After construction finished in 2011, the Performing Arts Center (PAC) would be the only remnants of the 1976 structures are the H building, being the only one not renovated. 

Map of Madison Pre-2007 renovations.

David Edwards was a Junior when he joined the varsity football team in 2003, dawning number 5 as a defensive back.

After a successful season, the Mavericks had made it to the state playoffs against Austin Westlake. Disaster would occur, when David collided with Westlake Receiver, Coy Aune, resulting in a snapped fourth vertebrae in David’s neck. The 9000 person crowd would witness David be left paralyzed from the neck down. 

David would eventually recover from his injury, returning to Madison on May 21, 2004. “David was wonderful before his accident; he was extraordinary afterwards and his smile told it all. He accepted his change of life with grace, dignity, and even joy. He refused to give up or let anything beat him. With the help of his family, all who loved him, and the outpouring of love from NEISD, the Madison family, and the Austin Westlake communities, David came back stronger than ever.” Principal Wernli said.

During the 4 years after his injury, David continued to carry his enthusiasm. He continued to go to football games and Spoke at Westlake’s class of 2005 Graduation. In a 2008 ESPN Commentary Article, Coy Aune would reminisce on his friendship with David after his injury. “He smiled when I saw him after the championship game. But he always smiled, his smile was so real — not just when he was on stage, but afterwards. You couldn’t fake that. It comes from a good place.”

After his injury, David was supported by many. One of which being filmmaker Peter Berg, who witnessed the incident first hand. Along with the Westlake community, Whom raised enough funds to cover hospital costs.

Peter Berg would also go on to use David’s story as inspiration for the character Jason Street 2006 show “Friday Night Lights.”

The Austin American-Statesman reported that Edwards died at a San Antonio hospital from complications of pneumonia. He had stopped breathing Monday night and slipped into a coma on Tuesday, February 27th, 2008.

Stated on his obituary from 2008, “David Edwards, who was paralyzed during a 2003 high school football playoff game and whose injury was fictionalized in the TV show “Friday Night Lights,” died Wednesday. He was 20. Edwards, stricken with pneumonia since late last year, stopped breathing Monday night and slipped into a coma, his grandfather said. He died at Northeast Methodist Hospital. Edwards would have turned 21 on Saturday.”

Crowd waiting for the unveiling David Edwards plaque at Heroes Stadium in 2009.

David Edwards embodies everything about pride. His strength and devotion to recovery is not only inspirational, but also admirable. Coy Aune reluctantly retold the Story with one condition. “Don’t make it a sad story. Everyone will tell you that David Edwards was always smiling. He never let himself be sad. Not when he faced a surgery. Not when they tried to make him feel even the tiniest sensation. Not when his bed sores got infected. Not even when he was having another bout with pneumonia. So read this and smile. It was a privilege to be the last person to feel him move.”

One Comment Add yours

  1. Joe Shmoe says:

    This is fye fye

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