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WATCH: Motocross Star Bruce Cook Sets a World Record in the Sport That Paralyzed Him

July 09,2016 14:10

On January 3, 2014 freestyle motocross rider Bruce Cook attempted to complete the world's first double front flip on a dirt bike. In an instant, thousands of fans' electrifying screams turned into a collective gasp as the audience at Nitro Circus Live ...

By Tiare Dunlap

On January 3, 2014 freestyle motocross rider Bruce Cook attempted to complete the world's first double front flip on a dirt bike.
In an instant, thousands of fans' electrifying screams turned into a collective gasp as the audience at Nitro Circus Live of watched in horror as Cook under-rotated, crash landing on his back.
"I've crashed a lot of times and I've been injured a lot of times, but right off the bat I knew this time was different," Cook tells PEOPLE.
Cook's body bent backwards, breaking his T-11 vertebra and paralyzing the then 26-year-old from the waist down.
"As soon as I got to the hospital and had X-rays they told me it was as bad as I thought it was," he recalls. "It was terrifying but at the same time, there was kind of an odd peace that came over me."

"My upper body was ok, my brain was as good as it ever was, which isn’t saying much, but I knew it could be worse and I was grateful for that," he continues.
Remarkably, Cook spent the next 66 days of his life in the hospital, dreaming about returning to the sport that cost him so much. Never Say Can’t: The Bruce Cook Story follows Cook's extraordinary life, from reaching the height of his field to his devastating accident to his tireless efforts to set a world record by becoming the first paraplegic to backflip a dirt bike.
"As soon as I got out of surgery I was determined to get back on the bike," Cook says. "If you fall off the horse you get back on – that's just how I was raised."
Nine months after his accident, Cook returned to riding with a modified bike that allows him to strap himself in – meaning he can't push away from the bike if something goes wrong.

"I'm secured to the bike so no matter what happens I'm along for the ride and that's a really scary thought," he says.
Despite this added difficulty, Cook accomplished his goal just one month after returning to riding.
"It was crazy. It was something I thought about every single do so to accomplish it in such a short amount of time was pretty overwhelming," he says.

Now, Cook continues touring the world with Nitro Circus and changing perceptions of what people in wheelchairs can accomplish.
"After my first show I heard from people who said that I inspired them to not give up," he says. "That's really what keeps me going. If I can inspire people by doing what I love then it almost makes this whole journey worth it. "
Never Say Can’t: The Bruce Cook Story, airs at 3:30pm Eastern / 12:30 pm Pacific Sunday, July 10 on NBC.

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