A relatively new tradition at the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony each year is the presentation of the Warrior Award, which goes to a person who “embodies the indomitable spirit of The Ultimate Warrior.” This year, that honor will go to former Rutgers defensive tackle and beloved motivational speaker Eric LeGrand.
ESPN.com announced on Monday that LeGrand will receive the Warrior Award at this year’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Dana Warrior, the widow of the Ultimate Warrior, will present LeGrand with the award at the ceremony.
“I was in complete shock when I found out,” LeGrand told ESPN.com. “What an honor.”
WWE executive vice president Paul Levesque, who is better known to wrestling fans as Triple H, reached out to LeGrand last week, but left the longtime wrestling fan wondering for a couple of days what the 14-time world champion wanted to talk to him about.
“Paul’s assistant sent me an email on Tuesday saying Paul wanted to talk and wanted to schedule a call for Thursday,” LeGrand said. “So I’m sitting here for two days wondering what Triple H wants to say to me. My heart was racing for two days wondering what this was all about. When he called me, he explained the award to me and what they do at WrestleMania, and then he told me at the end that they want to present the award to me, and I honestly didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know how to react. This was incredible as someone who grew up as a fan since I was a little kid.”
From the official WWE press release:
LeGrand was a key player on the Rutgers University football team before a spinal cord injury he sustained during a game in October 2010 left him paralyzed from the neck down. LeGrand’s tremendous courage and unwavering strength throughout his rehabilitation captured the attention of the nation. He resumed his college classes via Skype and also launched his sports broadcasting career as an analyst for Rutgers Football Radio Network. LeGrand founded the charity Team LeGrand of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation in 2013 and is now a highly sought-after motivational speaker. In support of LeGrand’s mission to raise funds for research to find a cure for paralysis and to help improve the quality of life for people with spinal cord injuries, WWE will be making a $25,000 donation to Team LeGrand.
“It is an absolute honor to be named the 2017 Warrior Award recipient,” said LeGrand. “I am truly grateful for WWE’s support of my personal journey and I am proud to continue to be an example of strength for people everywhere.”
“Eric LeGrand has shown incredible perseverance and unwavering positivity throughout his recovery,” said Stephanie McMahon, WWE Chief Brand Officer. “From the work he does helping others with spinal cord injuries to his motivational speaking, Eric is the perfect choice for this prestigious award.”
“Eric LeGrand truly embodies the Warrior spirit with his determination and positive outlook,” said Dana Warrior. “I am honored to present this year’s Warrior Award to Eric at the WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.”
The Warrior Award is currently in its third year. The first recipient was the late Connor “The Crusher” Michalek, and last year’s award went to Joan Lunden.