Drunk driver changes rising star's life

HOUSTON Twelve years later, few even remember his story. And so, one man is on a mission to remind us all the importance of looking out for the little guy.

Joe Roach and Dickson could be considered an odd couple, but they have become fast friends; two guys who have every reason to feel sorry for themselves but don't.

"How did you not become bitter and just mad at the world and angry?" Roach asked Dickson.

"It was tough," he replied. "But I felt like if I could do something out of this chair, despite what I had been through, that it would do more good for people than it did bad for me. But it was definitely tough."

And it still is. The 32-year-old former athlete's car isn't wheelchair assessable, so to get in, he hoists himself in the passenger seat, takes apart his chair and loads it into the backseat. He then gets out and starts all over again.

Getting around his apartment is no easier. The doorways are too narrow, so to go to the bathroom, he removes the wheels, turns around and then pushes backwards with his hands.

It's a far cry from the physical excellence he once knew.

"You graduated from Scarborough, and you had lots of offers to play football," Roach said. "How many offers did you have?"

"I had three trunk loads full of letters, so pretty much everybody," answered Dickson.

A standout quarterback and cornerback, Dickson accepted a scholarship to the University of Texas. His dream had come true, but it ended his freshman year.

"I came home for spring break. I was actually asleep in the back seat of the car because I had to go to practice the next morning," said Dickson. "A drunk driver in a suburban came and kinda T-boned us, so to speak, and kinda ended my career at that point."

He was paralyzed from the chest down. The drunk driver got probation and Dickson got a lifetime in a wheelchair.

"How do you feel about the guy that hit you?" Roach asked.

"We all make mistakes, and his mistake was that he was drinking and driving," answered Dickson.

It's the kind of story that has spurred Roach, a former Houston council member, to become an advocate for who he calls "the little guy."

"I am a lawyer, one of the few lawyers who look like me," said Roach. "And I've made it. But if I can give back and help others, that's my responsibility."

Roach is hoping by shedding light on Dickson's circumstances, someone might be willing to step forward and help.

"It's all about looking out for the little guy, and there are a lot of little guys in Houston, and I'm not talking about size," said Roach. "I'm just talking about people that need that extra boost."

These days, Dickson spends most of his time composing and producing music, and his computer skills have been put to good use at Goodwill Industries, where he was recently hired as a dispatcher.

"I'm hoping this is a stepping stone so that he can jump out to another employer down the road," said Steve Luftburrow with Goodwill Industries.

Those who know him say he deserves more -- a better job, a wheelchair accessible vehicle and home, a life that doesn't have to be so hard. And just maybe with this new friendship, he'll soon get it.

"As long as something positive comes out of this whole thing, then I'm fine," he said. "As long as more positive than the bad that happened to me, then I'm OK."

If you'd like to find out more about the Tyres Dickson's story, or to access his music, log onto TheJudgesSpot.net

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