A concussion stole it all

Kevin Salamone’s eyes were locked on a soccer ball, floating tantalizingly through the air, so he never saw the elbow coming.

He jumped for a header just as a defender’s arm crashed down on his skull, bashing his brain from above. The blow left Salamone stunned, with vision blurred so badly that he could no longer recognize the faces of his teammates. He signaled that he needed a substitution, then stumbled toward the sideline. When he got close, he asked for help.

“My head really hurts,” Salamone said, speaking through a fog.

He recalls a coach telling him to sit on the bench, insisting he “would be fine.” Salamone took a seat, but he knew his coach was wrong. Over the last few minutes of this soccer game, he had been struck in the head twice, and now the damage felt cumulative. His vision was still blurry and his head wouldn’t stop throbbing.

Salamone asked a teammate to go find the athletic trainer.

A minute or two later, the teammate returned alone.

He said the trainer wasn’t coming.

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