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Injured Southern University football player transferred to Shepherd Center

Injured Southern University student Devon Gales was transferred from Athens Regional Medical Center in Athens, Ga., to Shepherd Center in Atlanta for spinal cord injury rehabilitation.
Devon Gales, a Southern University football player, sustained spinal injuries in last Saturday's game against UGA.

ATLANTA -- Injured Southern University student Devon Gales says he's ready for the road to recovery.

On Friday, doctors, coaches and family friends talked about his condition.

On Saturday, the wide receiver severed his C6 vertebrae trying to block a kickoff return during a game with UGA.  Gale was initially treated at Athens Regional Medical Center.  In a 4.5 hour surgery Dr. Kimberly Walpert says she removed the broken bone and built a scaffold to protect his neck as the injury healed.

On Wednesday Giles was then transferred to the Shepherd Center in Atlanta for spinal cord injury rehabilitation.  Dr. Brock Bowman says right now Gales is able to lift his arms, but grabbing objects is difficult and while he can sense his legs are there, he has not been able to move them.

Family friend Kimberly August thanked the communities in both Louisiana, where Gales is from, and Georgia for their outpouring show of support.  August says, "people are calling to check on him and they're upset about his injury and he's consoling them, that's the kind of young man he is."

August says Gales hopes his injury sparks conversations about football safety.  His positive attitude is also likely to provide inspiration to others facing difficult hurdles.

"Devon knows you can't be brave if you've only had wonderful things happen to you," explained August.

UGA Sports Medicine Director Ron Courson says both teams had taken a medical timeout before the game to talk about emergency procedures.  He says those procedures became critical after Gales' injury.

Founded in 1975, Shepherd Center is a private, not-for-profit hospital and is ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top 10 rehabilitation hospitals in the nation.

PHOTOS | UGA vs. Southern University