San Diego

College Tennis Star From San Diego Severes Spine in Texas Car Crash

His family is hoping for “Some kind of miracle that not only helps him but other people in the same situation."

NBC Universal, Inc.

A devastating car crash has left a local tennis star paralyzed from the waist down. Now his family is hoping the community can help them afford a "miracle" treatment.

The accident happened in early April as 20-year-old Ivan Smith drove to his tennis practice at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas. He wasn’t wearing a seatbelt as he collided with another car, his brother Kevin Smith told NBC 7.

The Smith family has spent a lot of time at the Balboa Tennis Club, practicing and working. Kevin Smith may be 30 years older than his brother Ivan, but their love for tennis brought them closer. They both are competitive, leading Ivan to a world ranking.

"He’s so talented and he’s an amazing tennis player. This is the last thing we'd ever expect to happen to him," Kevin said. “When he hit the airbags, that’s when he broke all of his ribs and everything here. His aorta was damaged. His lungs collapsed.”

And possibly worst of all, Ivan's spine was severed, according to Kevin. He added that doctors don’t believe Ivan will ever walk again. The family has yet to break the news to Ivan, who is still recovering in a Texas hospital.

"If anybody can get through this, it’s going to be him just because of the competitiveness," said Kevin.

The family has raised money with the community's help in the hopes of finding the best, most advanced treatments.

“Some kind of miracle that not only helps him but other people in the same situation,” said Kevin.

Kevin believes Ivan will win the hardest match of his life because of the determination and will to win he showed on the tennis court.

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