BOSTON (CBS) — The Boston sports world lost a true champion on Thursday when former Boston University hockey player Travis Roy died at the age of 45. Roy was paralyzed below the neck when he crashed into the boards 11 seconds into his first shift with the Terriers in 1995, but he devoted the rest of his life to serving as an inspiration to those living with spinal cord injuries and raising money for spinal cord research.
Tributes began to pour in from around the hockey world shortly after news of Roy’s passing broke.
“It is with heavy hearts that we mourn the passing of Travis Roy. His story is the epitome of inspiration and courage, and he was a role model and a hero to so many people,” Boston University said in a statement. “Travis’ work and dedication towards helping fellow spinal cord-injury survivors is nothing short of amazing. His legacy will last forever, not just within the Boston University community, but with the countless lives he has impacted across the country.”
Jack Parker, Roy’s coach at Boston University, said that Roy never let his life-changing injury take away from his “upbeat” approach to life.
“He’s gone out of his way to help people, even though he’s had a tough time of it, every day. Nobody knows how hard it was for Travis every day,” Parker told WBZ-TV. “He went out of his way to help other people all the time, and he always upbeat. The things his foundation has done for people like himself that were in a chair, beyond belief.”
Jerry York — head coach of Boston College, the crosstown rivals of the Terriers — also spoke of the inspiring life that Roy led.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of Travis Roy,” York said in a statement. “Travis overcame his obstacles and dedicated himself to improving the lives of others. He will continue to be an inspiration to us all. May he rest in peace.”
An inspiration to us all. RIP Travis. pic.twitter.com/698VwsAokc
— BC Hockey (@BCHockey) October 29, 2020
Boston Bruins president Cam Neely said that Roy was “the ultimate symbol of determination and courage.”
“The impact that Travis had on the New England hockey community is immeasurable, and his relentless advocacy for spinal cord research was inspiring,” Neely said in a statement. “The Bruins offer sincere condolences to the Roy family, the Travis Roy Foundation, Boston University, and all of those who knew and loved Travis Roy.”
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick began his Friday morning video conference by offering his condolences to the Roy family.
“He has been such a great inspirational story to all of us, nationally and in this area. His positive outlook and the way he handled his difficult situation, it was just incredible. Glad I had an opportunity to interact a little bit with him and his foundation,” said Belichick. “It’s a sad day for a kid that went through so much and handled it in an incredibly positive way.”
Bruins legend Ray Bourque sent condolences to the Roy family via Twitter.
Christiane and I are saddened to hear about the passing of our good friend, Travis Roy. We are honored to have known such a great man who helped so many others. Our family sends our heartfelt condolences to the Roy family and everyone Travis touched. May he Rest In Peace. pic.twitter.com/8OnofdisJC
— Ray Bourque (@RayBourque77) October 29, 2020
Mike Eruzione, a fellow BU alum and captain of the Miracle On Ice Olympic hockey team, also remembered Roy via Twitter.
sad day after hearing of the passing of Travis Roy he was a very special person. he dedicated his life to helping so many. raised so much money For spinal cord injuries and those who suffered. He will be missed but his spirit and smile will be remembered forever RIP my friend https://t.co/iy3HgwTtBt
— MIKE ERUZIONE (@MERUZIONE) October 29, 2020
As did Andrew Frates, the brother of the late Pete Frates, a former BC baseball star was the inspiration behind the Ice Bucket Challenge during his battle with ALC. Frates shared a photo of his late brother with Roy, asking Travis to give Pete a huge for him.
Very sad to hear the passing of @TRFoundation. Sad day in Boston as we lost another titan in philanthropy and foundation of strength for the city. Give @PeteFrates3 a hug for us. #RIPTravisRoy pic.twitter.com/VrAjJWiiVr
— Andrew Frates (@AndrewFrates_) October 30, 2020
Roy was paralyzed on Oct. 20, 1995, and a year later he established The Travis Roy Foundation. Over the last 25 years, the foundation helped more than 2,100 quadriplegics and paraplegics, and raised nearly $5 million toward spinal cord research.