MIAMI, Fla — He was 22 years young and a promising NFL career ahead of him when Jacksonville native and former Miami Dolphins defensive lineman Kendrick Norton's football career abruptly came to an end.
On July 4, 2019 Norton was involved in a terrible car crash in south Florida. His left arm was severed from his body ending his NFL career. The Trinity Christian alum was preparing to enter his second season in the NFL. He had signed with the Dolphins back in December and was looking to make a splash along the team's defensive line.
That all ended that July morning as Norton and girlfriend Kira Williams were making their way home on the 826 expressway when he made contact with another car, spun around four times and flipped.
His life shifted from being all about football to now finding a new path in life. While inside the car, Norton tried to get up when he realized he was missing a piece of his arm. He still managed to focus on getting himself and his girlfriend out the car. He kicked the air bag out of the window which allowed them to crawl out of the car.
Once they were out of the wreckage, bystanders were telling Norton to lay down and they started applying pressure to his arm with belts, clothes and shirts. While on the ground Norton says he was thinking "this can’t be real."
He drifted in and out of consciousness with his girlfriend by his side. Norton recalls her continually encouraging him to not close his eyes. Callers to 911 told operators that Norton's arm was detached from the elbow down.
Doctors told him later he lost half of the blood in his body.
Williams stayed at the scene after Norton was placed in an ambulance to find his arm. Once the tow truck lifted Norton's truck up they found the football star's arm underneath. They gave it to Williams and she was taken from the scene by ambulance with Norton’s arm in a red bag.
She arrived at the hospital 20 minutes after Norton, hoping doctors could reattach it. Norton was in a coma for two days. When he came out of the coma, his doctors told him his arm could not be reattached.
Norton recalls a range of emotions. First, he said, he was happy to see all his family. But then he became angry at the situation and what had happened. He knew his pro football career was over.
Williams kept reminding Norton how lucky he was to be alive after the terrifying accident. He eventually told his girlfriend she was right.
Norton spent two weeks in the hospital where he had several surgeries and lost 30 pounds.
Norton says he was eventually able to move past the fact he could not play ball anymore. Norton has embraced his new circumstances deciding to figure out what else he could be great at besides football. Norton says he desires to move forward and be happy "and that's something that comes from within," he said adding, "It’s not the end of the world."
Norton and Williams have started a new channel on Youtube. It’s a show called “Ken and Kira New Beginnings.” The show allows the world to see how Norton is adapting to life without part of his arm.
Norton also speaks around the country sharing his story with hopes of inspiring others. He says, "Never stop. Keep going. Nothing is as important as the value you place on it. Whether you're playing golf, swimming whatever if it doesn't work out it's not the end of the world."
He adds, "Losing my arm was worth the sacrifice."
Norton says he teamed up with some Miami banks and car dealerships and will be hosting blood drives at five of the biggest high schools here in Miami. He's also enjoying his role as a football analyst here in South Florida.
Chris Porter is Sports Director at First Coast Coast News.