Courtesy of: Joel Weckerly, CFISD Communication
Cypress, TX (February 7, 2015) – Hours after signing his National Letter of Intent to play football for Stephen F. Austin State University on Feb. 4, the symbolism of inking a new chapter in his life story was not lost on Cypress Springs High School senior Lawrence Ghansah. It was only seven months before that his life was nearly tragically cut short.
“Without these guys right here,” Ghansah says, pointing to Panther teammates Brian Harden, Roshad Dorsey and Christian Vasquez, “I’d be in a coffin. I’d be six feet under right now. I would not be signing a letter of intent.”Last July, the four friends were traveling to a community pool together when Ghansah jokingly brought up an unlikely scenario.
“He said it would stink if you got a cramp right in the middle of the pool in the deep end,” says Harden, a senior quarterback. “We just laughed it off.”
As he made his first jump into the deep end, however, Ghansah wasn’t laughing. His leg began to cramp up before he even hit the water.
“I think I caught it in mid-air. I felt something in my leg I was like, ‘Oh no,’” Ghansah says. “When I was in the water I was actually trying to push up and ask for help but I couldn’t get there.”
From his friends’ perspective, Ghansah was continuing a joke from the conversation in the car.
“Lawrence plays a lot, so we thought maybe he was faking,” says Dorsey, a senior safety. “I guess he stayed under too long, so I said, ‘Oh I don’t think he’s playing,’ to Brian and Christian.”
Dorsey plunged to the bottom to try to bring his friend to the surface, and managed to get his head above water for a split-second before the weight caused him to let go. Still debilitated from the cramp, Ghansah sunk 10 feet down to the pool floor.
“Roshad almost died too because he hung onto me,” Ghansah says. “When he let go of me, I was on the bottom trying to make one last stunt to the wall so I could jump up. By the time I get to the wall I’m like, ‘Is this really it?’ I basically saw my life flash before my eyes.”
Harden joined Dorsey for one last rescue attempt, this time managing to keep him above the surface and prop his body against the pool wall.
“He came up and his eyes were rolled back. I was pretty scared,” says Vasquez, a junior kicker. “We put him on the wall and he couldn’t grab on, and that’s when we knew it was serious.”
As Vasquez pulled Ghansah up to the ledge, Harden recalls being so exhausted from the struggle that he could only lay next to his unconscious friend. Meanwhile, Vasquez and Dorsey performed CPR – a skill they both learned in health class at Cypress Springs.
“That’s when I started doing CPR. It was natural instinct, really,” Vasquez says. “I was about to start doing mouth-to-mouth, and then the water came up out of his mouth. Luckily he woke up.”
Ghansah spent about seven hours in the hospital, but faced no long-term effects and went on to have an all-district senior season.
Panthers head coach Rick Cobia continues to be proud of the effort his players showed that day.
“They weren’t going to leave him. They weren’t going to quit fighting for him. As a coach, that’s the epitome of family. Of team,” Cobia says. “We were blessed to have that outcome where Lawrence was OK. It’s a scary moment when you think you could have lost that young man. And now here he is today signing his scholarship. That particular day was a very close bonding day that I think those four kids will have the rest of their lives.”
Harden reflected on that moment during National Signing Day, as his friend signed with SFA.
“I was thinking about it last night,” he says. “It would have been terrible if we weren’t there or if someone wouldn’t have helped him. He wouldn’t be able to have this opportunity. We’re blessed he’s alive to keep playing ball.”
Ghansah said his future will always be tied to his teammates – his family – and that near-death experience.
“I’m just blessed,” he says. “I owe them my life.”