Pedro Sosa was a day or two away from signing a sweet multi-year deal with Oscar De La Hoya's Golden Boy Promotions to turn pro when his world got thrown off off its axis.
Sosa, a 19 year old Bronx resident, was driving with his older sister Jennifer on the Cross Bronx Expressway early Sunday on Oct. 30 of 2011. There was a multi-car pileup and the Sosas, who had exited the car which contained colleagues who worked with Jennifer at a Long Island restaurant, plunged 75 feet, off an overpass, into a construction area under the roadway.
Jennifer was badly hurt, and Pedro was rendered comatose. The kid who just missed making the 2012 Olympic team at 141 pounds, who'd sifted through a bunch of offers to turn pro, was taken to Jacobi Medical center, with his sister. Tragically, Jennifer died at Jacobi, leaving behind her toddler son. Pedro hung on for his life. After three weeks, he awoke from the coma.
"How's Jennifer?" he asked.
Fine, he was told. She just has a broken leg, he was told. He had a damaged lung and liver, and busted ribs, and bleeding on his brain. But he was happy sis was OK.
Doctors told Sosa's family to lie to him, because they feared the truth, that his sister was dead, would set him back. They finally broke the news a bit before Christmas, when it was determined he was strong enough to handle the shocking truth.
"It's hard," Sosa told me, his voice slightly slurred from brain damage, "thinking it's my fault, I was the driver, and that was my sister. But I think everything happens for a reason. It was a miracle I fell 75 feet. God wanted me to stay and to take my sister. It's hard for me, but it is what it is. God is the one who knows what he does."
The fighter, and I use that word intentionally, because Sosa is to be respected for his strength and attitude during this ordeal, said he wants to fight again, though doctors have told him it is unlikely. His brain, he was told, shouldn't take more punishment.
Pedro came home on Dec. 22, and is living with his parents in the Bronx, going to rehab sessions, trying to get back some of what was lost. "I'm feeling good, better every day," he said. "Every day I feel better and better and better."
I'm hoping he proves the docs wrong, and works his way back to the ring. The sport, and hell, the world, need examples like Pedro Sosa.
Note: The Daily News Golden Gloves, the world’s oldest and largest amateur boxing tournament, held a benefit match for Pedro on Tuesday, January 31, at Justice Sotomayor Center in the Bronx. This was his first public appearance since the accident. The Daily News will donate all proceeds from the night’s matches towards Sosa’s recovery and the care of his sister’s son who was left motherless. A special presentation was held during intermission.