Stroke survivor finds new life in Panthers flag football league

CHARLOTTE — Christian McClendon loves the game of football. He played the sport growing up, but there was a time he wasn’t sure if he would be able to play the sport again or even walk.

In 2003, McClendon suffered a massive stroke at the age of 13 while at Carowinds with a group. He was a in coma for weeks and hospitalized for months. After having dreams of playing professional football, those dreams were taken away.

McClendon underwent surgery, where surgeons removed part of his brain that was damaged from the stroke.

“And at that point the doctor said he’s going to die,” Penny McClendon, Christian’s mother said. “Not minute by minute, but second… Everything is going to cut off. He can pass away.”

Now at the age of 32, McClendon has reignited his passion for the sport by playing in the Challenger Football League, which is a flag football league backed by the Carolina Panthers who partnered with Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation.

The league is meant to give athletes with various abilities the chance to build their confidence and compete.

>> In the video at the top of the page, Channel 9′s DaShawn Brown shows how Christian McClendon got back to playing the sport he loves after a stroke in 2003.

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