ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Doctors told Brock Mealer he would be in a wheelchair the rest of his life.
On Saturday, he led the Michigan Wolverines on the field.
"This is the start of a new chapter," he said. "The next chapter is to getting rid of one cane, and getting rid of the next cane."
The brother of offensive lineman Elliott Mealer, Brock used two canes to steady himself and fire up the team and the largest crowd to attend a football game before Michigan went on to rout Connecticut 30-10.
Mealer was told he wouldn't walk again after he and Elliott survived a car accident on Christmas Eve in 2007 that killed their father and Elliott's girlfriend.
"Going into it, I was trying to focus more on the game, but it was definitely emotional," Elliott said. "For him to be able to do that is great, literally a stepping stone for him to continue to push on."
Mealer has endured hours of rehabilitation with the football program's strength and conditioning coaches along with therapists and physicians at the University of Michigan's hospital in a relentless quest to get around on his own two feet.
His friends and family had seen him walk — sometimes on his own or with a cane — but this was different — in front of 113,090 fans at the new-look Big House.
In addition to Elliott, Brock was joined on the field by his brother Blake, and their mother, Shelly, who escaped the accident near Toledo, Ohio, with just bruises after a car driven by a 90-year-old man ran a stop sign.
"It was a touching moment for us because we know the whole story," Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez said.