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Loyola Blakefield graduate Van Brooks has turned life-altering tragedy into triumph

Loyola Blakefield graduate Van Brooks has turned life-altering tragedy into triumph

Van Brooks' roots in the Towson community are apparent inside the youth center he opened and operates in West Baltimore's Franklin Square community, where he grew up and still lives.

The walls of the center for sixth- to eighth-graders are blue and yellow, the colors of Brooks' high school alma matter, Loyola Blakefield. There's a metal tiger on this desk, an award he received from the college he graduated from, Towson University, for his philanthropic work.

Football was his focus when he was at Loyola, until his junior year, when, on Sept. 25, 2004, a tackle inflicted a life-altering neck injury on Brooks. Despite that injury, which initially paralyzed him from the neck down,...

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