A devastating boating accident nearly derailed a football star’s career—but instead, she came back stronger and more motivated than ever.
Angela Baker, from Pittsburgh, has been playing football since she was 5 years old, and loves the sport more than ever. For the past seven years, she’s been a wide received for the Pittsburgh Passion women’s football team.
“It’s my happy place, it’s my passion,” she told KDKA. “No pun intended.”
On July 11, 2016, Baker took a break from the field when a teammate invited her out on her boat.
But a fun summer day out on the water suddenly turned tragic. The group smelled gasoline and suddenly the boat exploded as the teammates jumped out into the water.
Baker thought she had made it out relatively unharmed—until she was rescued.
“I didn’t know that anything was wrong until we got pulled up on the boat,” she said. “As soon as the air touched my legs, I realized that something wasn’t right.”
Baker was rushed to the hospital’s burn unit. She had suffered severe burns on her legs below the knee from the explosion, and had to undergo several surgeries and skin grafts.
But she only had one thing on her mind: “First thing I asked the doctors was, was I going to be able to play football again?”
While it wasn’t easy, Baker slowly made a recovery thanks to the support of her family and teammates.
Eventually, the tough athlete was back on the field—this time with some extra layering around her legs, protecting her scars from rough play.
Not only did Baker return to the Passion, she won a gold medal playing for the U.S. Women’s National team and was even selected for the All-American team.
Not only did Baker make a miraculous physical recovery, not letting her injuries stand in her way, but she’s come out of the whole ordeal even more committed to the sport than ever, knowing how it could all go away in a flash.
“I think about the fact that I can still play football, I can still do all the things that I love,” Baker said.
“It just made you realize that life is never guaranteed. It put things in perspective, and for that I am thankful.”