December 30, 2017 was the last time Kendrick Norton stepped on the field in a Miami Hurricane uniform. This week, the former All-ACC defensive lineman sat down with ESPN to talk about his days as a Cane, life in the NFL, and the severe car accident that left him without half of his left arm. Norton’s story is one of tremendous mental strength and fortitude.
Norton, a two-year Hurricane starter, talked about his excitement and memories of the big games that he got to be a part of in Miami. The tenacious DT mentioned the Notre Dame game, in which Miami dominated the Irish 41-8, and the Florida State Seminoles battle as key highlights of his Cane career. Outside of Malik Rosier’s game-winning TD pass to Darrell Langham, Norton’s strumming of James Blackman’s leg after a sack was also a memorable highlight of that thrilling game. His time in Miami helped cultivate a dominant Canes defense.
In 2018, Norton was selected by the Carolina Panthers in the seventh round in the NFL Draft. After spending most of the season on the practice squad, Norton was signed by the Miami Dolphins later in the season. He was finally on the cusp of getting meaningful minutes in the city in which, he made a name for himself in college. “I was really excited about going down there and being able to play...and carve out myself a role on the team...and being able to make an impact”
Very early in the morning on July 4th, Norton made contact with another vehicle which caused his car to spin around 4 times and flip. “It was just like boom and I just remember laying upside down.” Norton had enough strength to kick his girlfriend’s door open. Once she was outside of the car, Norton began maneuvering to get to the window on her side of the car. He tried to do a push up and through the opening but he immediately fell over on his left side, which was missing an arm. Norton lost half of the blood in his body before got to the hospital. He remained in a coma for two days. Once he came to, he was faced with the reality that his arm could never be reattached. “After they said that it kind of hit me instantly...you’re alive that’s the biggest thing. What’s an arm when you have your life?” Through his 14 day hospital stay, Norton underwent 6 surgeries and lost 30 pounds.
Two weeks after his accident, Norton’s spirit and perseverance had him back in the gym. He refused to be broken or shattered by the accident. He started a Youtube channel with his girlfriend titled, Ken & Kira, which highlights his transition in life. Although Norton has pointed out that he can get through the routine of a day without extreme complications, he continues to adjust to life with just one arm. “The whole left side of my body, I don’t have access to anything because I can’t grab anything.” Norton remains positive and determined to push forward which is a great testament to his belief that better things are ahead.
This former Hurricane player has come against adversity and strife. His injury may have taken his NFL dream but not his future or his spirit:
“I never asked why this happened to me because, you know, it could’ve been worse. So I’ll never ask why me. It was just in the plans for me and I’ll take it and roll with it every day. You know our lives are already written for us. I feel like we’re just following a script...I feel like this [accident] is part of my script...It’s part of the plan for my life and I’m ok with it.”