2024 Male Comeback Athlete of the Year: Ethan Hampton

Ethan Hampton standing on the sidelines of a Paul Laurence Dunbar football game

UK HealthCare Sports Medicine is proud to present the 2024 Male Comeback Athlete of the Year Award. This year's recipient is Ethan Hampton, a senior from Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in Lexington.

Two Comeback Athlete of the Year Awards — given to one male student-athlete and one female student-athlete — are presented annually to young people who have overcome illness or injury that affected their ability to participate in sports sanctioned by the Kentucky High School Athletic Association. Athletic trainers from across Kentucky review nominees submitted to the KHSAA, and recipients are determined based on their sportsmanship, ethical behavior on and off the field, and academic standing.

Congratulations to Ethan on being this year's male recipient!

About Ethan

Ethan, a captain and standout lineman for the Bulldogs’ football team, looked forward to earning a college football opportunity through what promised to be a great senior season. During Dunbar’s second game of the season, Ethan suffered a severe neck injury that caused the right side of his body to be paralyzed. He was transported to Mercer County Community Hospital before being transferred to UK Albert B. Chandler Hospital, where he stayed in an intensive care unit for about a week. Through rigorous therapy, Ethan was able to regain feeling and movement in his right side. However, he is unable to play football or other contact sports again. 

Rather than disappearing from his team, Ethan chose to stay on the sidelines as a student coach. Every practice and game, he dedicated himself to making his teammates better and continued to demonstrate the same character and leadership that made him a great football player.

“Football helped me realize a lot of things about who I was,” Ethan told the local paper. “And football, yes, is a love for me. But the person I am is still inside me. Just because I lost football doesn’t take that away from me.”

Read more of Ethan’s story from the Lexington Herald-Leader.

This content was produced by UK HealthCare Brand Strategy.

Topics in this Story

    Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine