Travis Roy died from complications from his paralysis on Thursday, 25 years to the month after he sustained a serious spinal cord injury 11 seconds into his college hockey career at Boston University.
He was 45.
Roy, who was paralyzed from the neck down, had dedicated his life to those with spinal cord injuries, to helping improve their lives through the Travis Roy Foundation. He was a fundraiser and an advocate, personally touching others who suffered injuries like his, especially hockey players like Denna Laing and Jack Jablonski.
“It is with heavy hearts that we mourn the passing of Travis Roy,” Boston University Athletics said in a statement. “His story is the epitome of inspiration and courage, and he was a role model and a hero to so many people.
“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. Our sincere thoughts are with his wonderful family as well as his vast support group of friends and colleagues.”
Starting with a golf tournament put on with Boston Bruins great and NHL Hall of Fame defenseman Bobby Orr when Roy was still in college, Roy embarked on a speaking and fundraising career that would help countless people, both from his connection to those facing spinal cord injuries and through his foundation. His Foundation has awarded more than $4.7 million in research grants, along with grants to survivors of such injuries.
“Twenty years later, why am I still doing this?” Roy told NHL.com in 2018. “I think it’s partly because I need hope to get up every morning, selfishly, and for me that hope is supported and becomes a little bit more tangible through the funding of research.”
Roy, who first took the ice before he turned two, always loved hockey, even when it was difficult for him to be around the game he could no longer play after his injury Oct. 20, 1995 in his first game for the Terriers.
“I was on ice at 20 months old,” Roy said. “For literally the next 18 and a half years, I loved the game of hockey. I loved it with all my heart, my emotion and it was a big piece of who I was, and I have been broken-hearted ever since the night of my injury. But I still love watching the game being played.”
He knew that he could help. He believed that he should help. And he did.
“I look at it as my life has purpose,” Roy said. “I’m willing to put myself in that position down by the ice to know that something good is going to come of it and we’re going to help change some lives.”
Former Bruins forward Cam Neely expressed his condolences on twitter.
“Travis Roy was the ultimate symbol of determination and courage,” Neely said. “The impact that Travis had on the New England hockey community is immeasurable, and his relentless advocacy for spinal cord research was inspiring.
“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.”