BALTIMORE -- Grace Rolle remembers the crash and the silence that followed.
"You've heard of a mother's intuition?" she asked recently. "I heard a loud noise, and it sounded like somebody fell. After about two minutes, I thought that it didn't sound right. When I went downstairs to the garage, the papers were strewn everywhere."
Then she saw her son, Samari, on the ground, conscious but dazed.
"His lip was busted, his tongue was messed up and his neck was swollen," she said. "They have sharp, concrete stairs. I think when he fell, he must have hit those stairs."
That morning last September when his life changed dramatically, Samari Rolle asked his mother, who was visiting from Florida, if he had been hurt in the Baltimore Ravens' game the day before.
"It was Wednesday," he said. "She knew something wasn't right."
After calls to his wife, Danisha, and to the Ravens, Rolle was taken from his Baltimore County home to Union Memorial Hospital. Just in time, as it turned out.
"When I was going through the MRI machine, I had another seizure," said Rolle, 31. "Then I knew what the problem was."
He would be diagnosed with epilepsy, a neurological disorder that results in seizures when the brain fires electrical impulses four or more times the normal rate. Nearly 3 million people in the United States have epilepsy, including All-Pro guard Alan Faneca, who recently signed with the New York Jets.
The Ravens cornerback would have three seizures, the last one coming days before the Ravens played at Pittsburgh on Monday Night Football. It was Rolle's effort to get back on the field that inspired his teammates to vote Rolle as the Ravens' Ed Block Courage Award winner this year.
Rolle feels slightly uncomfortable for receiving an award because he has epilepsy.
"To show what they have gone through and what they have battled through, to me that's really indicative of what the award should be about," Rolle said while sitting outside his south Florida home one afternoon last month. "At the same time, I appreciate receiving it because it makes me know that my teammates respect me a whole lot for the effort I tried to put in last year."
Having educated himself about epilepsy, Rolle now knows he had shown symptoms for nearly two years.
He also understands that his status as a professional athlete gives him a certain responsibility for helping others similarly afflicted. Rolle said his foundation will start working with organizations dealing with epilepsy.
Among the letters, cards and e-mails offering support, it was a T-shirt sent to Rolle that has made the biggest impact on the former Pro Bowler. Read entire HeraldNet article