Sean Waltman's life played out on the big screen right before his very eyes. The victim of a broken home who was raised by a single parent. The troubled youth who grew up doing whatever he wanted to do- with what he called "total disregard for the consequences." The adolescent who at the ripe old age of 14 worked, begged, and borrowed his way into wrestling school.
And that was just Act 1.
From there, the Florida native made the tough decision to quit school. Then, at the age of 15, he reluctantly decided to leave home. He didn't have much money or a place to stay, but he had something far more important-a dream. A dream of becoming the best professional wrestler ever to fly through the air.
As he lay motionless on a cold, steel emergency room gurney somewhere in Omaha, Nebraska, the story continued. He reflected on his spectacular career, the fame and glory that went with being the 1-2-3 Kid. The adoring fans, the famous people he had met, the beautiful cities he had visited, the bad food served at the Federation television tapings. Suddenly, the scene was shifted as his hazel eyes filled with tears. He could see the face of his lovely wife Terry, whom he had met when he was only 18. The woman who had stood by him through the struggle of the early years on the independent circuit up to the stardom of signing his first World Wrestling Federation contract. As he approached the end of this Cinderella story, he was overcome with joy as he lovingly embraced the one scene that meant the most: his children-3 year old son Jesse and 5-month-old daughter Kaitlyn.
There s so much more to the athletes of the World Wrestling Federation than you'll ever know. We refer to them as "invincible superstars," heroes who are "larger than life." Unfortunately, the harsh reality is that they're not. They're human beings. Men and women-just like us-who happen to have a special gift. They feel the way we do, they bleed the way we do, and they break the way we do. As Sean Waltman listened to the doctor tell him that he had a fractured seventh vertebra in the cervical spine, the hero, the 1-2-3 Kid, stepped back to the corner while Sean Waltman, husband and father, came to center ring.
"At the time of my injury, all I could think about was my family. How was I going to take care of them?" reflects Sean. "It was a real reality check. Something as serious as that really forces you to put everything in its proper perspective!"
Sean sustained the career-threatening injury in Germany in a match with Hakushi when he flew outside the ring, landed on the guardrail and hit his head on the floor. Trying to "wrestle through it" the way most of the guys do, Sean refused medical treatment and went out the next two days to do his job. Unfortunately, a broken neck would even stop the 1-2-3 Kid. "Two days after the injury, Razor and I were wrestling Double J and the Roadie. All I remember is that, following the match, I passed out cold in the locker room."
Sean was rushed to a nearby emergency room, where the examining doctor told him up front that he had a broken neck and would never wrestle again. "My first emotion was that I was extremely upset," remembers Waltman, "but then I remember feeling mad. Nobody was going to tell me that I would never do what I love most again!"
Unfortunately for Sean, three weeks of lying immobile on his back seemed to dampen his fiery rage, and he reeled into a deep depression. "I remember thinking, is it all worth it? Do I really love the business this much to put my life on the line?" In a matter of a few days, Sean answered his own question with a resounding YES! Shortly thereafter, he began a strenuous rehabilitation program at the Occupational Rehabilitation Center in Minneapolis. "When I began my rehab, my weight was really down. I could only work out for 20 minutes at a time before I started becoming extremely nauseous. The only thing that kept me going was that I realized it benefited me AND my family that I get back to what I do best!"
Following months of therapy, the 1-2-3 Kid made his comeback in dramatic fashion at the King of the Ring when he flew out to the aid of his partner and friend Razor Ramon. In Sean's eyes that was the least he could do for the Bad Guy. "The night I was hurt, Razor rushed to the emergency room immediately following his match," said Sean. "He was the one who called my wife, told her about my injury and then took the time to comfort her. I will never forget him for that."
Thus far, there have been no ramifications caused by the injury, and Sean expects a long and healthy run in the Federation.
"I'm proud of Sean Waltman, and I'm more proud of my family. Because of their strength and support, the 1-2-3 Kid is alive and well again!"