Small-Town football and Life and Death of an American Boy

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‘Love, Zac: Small-Town Football and the Life and Death of an American Boy’ – a story of a Midwestern family by Reid Forgrave.

LOVE, ZAC: Small-Town Football and the Life and Death of an American Boy, is an intimate and emotionally gripping story of a young man, Iowan Zac Easter, who struggled with the neurodegenerative disorder CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) after playing full contact football from third grade through high school. Zac Easter grew up in a football-focused family in a football-focused town, where his two brothers were football stars and his father was his high school football coach.

After years of minor head hits, a string of concussions in his senior year of high school caused him to stop playing football for good. He would never be the same. Zac’s battle with CTE led to bouts of depression, substance abuse, anxiety, and memory loss as well as physical ailments like constant headaches and body pain, and then, ultimately, the decision to take his own life in December 2015 at age of 24. His last wishes were that his brain be donated to the Sports Legacy Institute so research could help others. Though Zacloved football, he wanted his story to be a warning of the dangers to all kids who choose to play football, and to all adults who can help make the game safer. In Zac’s memory, his mother and girlfriend founded the CTE Hope foundation to improve the technology to identify concussions and sports injuries and ensure that Zac’s story serve as a catalyst for all of us to address the devastating effects of concussions.


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