CHICAGO (CBS) – Former Eisenhower High School football player Rasul “Rocky” Clark, who was paralyzed in a high school football game more than 11 years ago, has died at the age of 27.

Clark passed away shortly after 6 p.m. Thursday following complications from abdominal surgery, his family announced in a written statement.

For those who knew and admired him, his strength and determination to keep on living and to help others was nothing short of remarkable.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s David Roe reports

Clark’s life changed forever Sept. 15, 2000 in a high school football game.

He was paralyzed from the neck down and became a quadriplegic. For Rocky and his mom, Annette, it was a struggle. She gave up her job to care for Rocky around the clock at their Robbins home.

He went to the hospital frequently with pneumonia.

The football community did not turn its back on Rocky. The Chicago Bears organization was especially generous.

He also had lots of friends in the media. But after 10 years, his $5 million insurance policy with the school district ran out, making survival even more difficult.

Two weeks ago, the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame presented him with a $25,000 check.

“He was a courageous young man. I’m saddened to hear this news. He was truly an inspiration to everybody with his infectious smile and positive outlook,” Charles P. Carey, president of The Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame, said in a written statement.

Funeral arrangements will be announced on Rocky Clark’s website.

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