Teen football player makes comeback after shattering his arm

Freeport high school football player gets a second chance on the field after orthopedic surgery at Studer Family Children’s Hospital saved his arm.

Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady could easily share his nickname, “The Comeback Kid,” with Lanier Little of Freeport, Florida. Lanier has made an amazing comeback from a devastating baseball injury that threatened his dreams of playing football, his first love.

Lanier, 13, began playing football at age 5. When he was 11, he was trying out for baseball for the first time when he slid into second base and fractured his arm, including his elbow. “I was sitting in the stands and I heard the crunch,” said his dad, Scott. Lanier was rushed to Ascension Sacred Heart Emerald Coast’s ER and then transported to Studer Family Children’s Hospital at Ascension Sacred Heart Pensacola.

Lanier had shattered his left arm. At Studer Family Children’s Hospital, he underwent six hours of surgery and two days of inpatient care. He returned home with three metal plates, two wires and 18 screws in his arm – all held together with a big arm cast he wore for eight weeks. While the surgery was a success, pediatric orthopedic surgeon, Dr. John Killian had the difficult task of giving the family some bad news: Lanier may be unable to play football again.

The news didn’t faze Lanier, he started a home-based rehabilitation program. After his cast was removed, he went to see Dr. Killian for a follow-up visit and asked if he could play football. “Dr. Killian told him, ‘If you can get down on the floor and hold a push-up for 20 seconds, you can play football,’” Scott said. Lanier held the push-up for double that time!

Lanier continued his home rehab program, and six months after his surgery he began playing football again, but not without protection.  He is an offensive and defensive lineman, who wears a customized arm brace when practicing and playing games for the Pop Warner Hub City Bulldogs in Crestview, FL.

“Everyone was so helpful, and Lanier has worked hard,” Lanier’s dad shared. “He’s a very kind, loving kid, but he’s also very strong and determined. Football is his first love until his first love comes along!”

Dr. Killian was amazed by Lanier’s progress, including his range of motion and arm extension. The doctor told the family he had never seen anyone come back from an injury like that, not even an adult. “Dr. Killian said it was 1% him and 99% God, and we believe the good Lord’s hands were inside his arm during that surgery. It really is a miracle,” Scott said.

The Little family is grateful for the wonderful care Lanier received. “My wife and I are so thankful and we were thoroughly impressed by everyone – from the ambulance drivers to the nurses,” Scott said.