As he looks back on his brush with death and considers how it all could’ve turned out differently, UFC Hall of Famer Matt Hughes is grateful for life and the progress he’s made since.
On June 16, 2017, Hughes’ truck collided with a train on a country road in Raymond, Ill., where he was airlifted to a hospital and placed in a medically induced coma because of a brain bleed. Hughes came out of his coma the next month and has battled to recover ever since, having to re-learn how to walk and function normally.
On Tuesday, the three-year anniversary of his accident, Hughes took to Instagram to provide an update on his status. His post included photos and a video compilation of him exercising, accompanied by a reflective message to his followers.
“About a year after my accident, I got complacent,” Hughes said. “I wasn’t noticing any big improvements. I was depressed, I felt like a burden, I felt worthless, and I would pray for God to take me. This past year has been an awakening for me. I have a new mindset and goals.”
Hughes, a former UFC champion widely regarded as one of the greatest welterweights of all time, noted that he’s learned so much in the past three years, especially when it comes to brain health.
“As an athlete, I thought I knew the body well,” Hughes said. “I realized I know nothing when it comes to the brain. I still have a long way to go, and I still have days where I get extremely sad and down, but I refuse to accept ‘this is as good as it’s going to get.’ If you are caring for someone with a brain injury, please be patient with them.”
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6-16-17. My accident was 3 years ago today. In some ways it doesn’t feel like that long ago, but in other ways, my old life feels like a lifetime ago. My life has changed so much in these past 3 years. Some for the better, some for the worse. According to my MRI, I should have never woke up from my coma. I should be dead or have what is referred to as locked-in syndrome.
About a year after my accident, I got complacent. I wasn’t noticing any big improvements. I was depressed, I felt like a burden, I felt worthless, and I would pray for God to take me.
This past year has been an awakening for me. I have a new mindset and goals.
I am beyond grateful for every physician, doctor, nurse, therapist, coach, first responder, family member, friend, etc. who worked with me over the past 3 years. I thank God for guiding their hands and their decisions. I am extremely thankful for all the many prayers from each and every one of you. To my friends and family who stuck it out with me during all the ups and downs, I wouldn’t be here if not for you.
As an athlete, I thought I knew the body well. I realized, I know nothing when it comes to the brain. I still have a long way to go and I still have days where I get extremely sad and down, but I refuse to accept “this is as good as it’s going to get”. If you are caring for someone with a brain injury, please be patient with them. Please don’t pick arguments or be overly critical. Educate yourself about the injury before you assume we are just being difficult for no reason.
If you have a brain injury, get help immediately. Stick to your therapy. Try and surround yourself with supportive people. See a counselor to help you through the tough times. Remove negative people and as much stress as possible from your life. This injury will not fix itself over time. You have to challenge yourself daily. Push your body further than what you think is possible.
Finally, thank you all for the support and encouragement you have given me these past 3 years. It definitely helps. Thank you for sharing your stories with me. Please keep the prayers coming, I sure do appreciate them. #rebirth #tbi #tbiawareness #aliveday