Former Daniel Webster College basketball star battles disability

aris Cosby’s twitter account has a slogan “Living with purpose not on purpose.”

Right now, Cosby’s purpose is to regain his quality of life.

The former Daniel Webster College guard, who graduated last spring as one of the best Division III shooters in the country, is now paralyzed from the neck down as the result of an auto accident this past summer while he and his wife Ashia were traveling back to Nashua from Utica, N.Y.,

According to former Daniel Webster men’s basketball coach Dave Faucher, the car hit a tree and Cosby was hurled from the vehicle, suffering serious spinal injuries.

“It’s devastating,” Faucher said. “Daris is one of the nicest kids, hardest workers you’ll ever meet.”

Cosby, who averaged 17.6 points a game and was 13th in the nation in Division III in 3-point field goal percentage (.466) last year. Faucher said he had a contract to play professional basketball in Italy this fall.

“It’s devastating news, and we all have to hope for his survival and the best … and sheer life now,” Faucher said.

Cosby was operated on and treated at Albany (N.Y.) Medical Center, where had a breathing tube inserted because at first he was unable to breathe on his own.

Still paralyzed, his condition improved as far as his breathing went and he was able to fight off an infection. He then, Faucher said, was sent to a rehabilitation facility in nearby Schenectady, N.Y.

“He was doing well in regard to sitting up for two minutes at a time,” Faucher said. He was working a motorized wheelchair, he could watch movies, his brain was sharp, he could speak on the phone.”

But then the infection returned, and Cosby has been sent back to Albany Medical.

“So now,” Faucher said, “it’s like starting all over once he gets out of Albany Medical.”

Before the infection resurfaced, Faucher had talked with Cosby, his wife and his mother, but since Cosby was hospitalized again, all has been quiet.

“It’s not an easy situation for him, for his family or his friends, or for Daniel Webster,” Faucher said.

Indeed, Cosby’s plight has shaken the entire DWC athletic community.

“Obviously, everyone has been in shock,” Daniel Webster sports information director Ken Belbin said. “He’s a role model. When you come in, freshmen are boys. Daris came in and was immediately a man.

“We were heartbroken to hear what happened. And still so amazed in the face of that that he was still giving thanks through his faith, saying ‘God is good, I’ll be strong.’ And his wife has been terrific.”

At DWC, Cosby made an impression with all who came into contact with him, as he had an edge in age and maturity.

“He’s a little bit older, maybe a couple of years older than the average kid coming in,” Belbin said. “He got married while he was in college, he’s a family man. Obviously a captain and an All-Conference player and all that. Never an ounce of trouble. I never heard the guy swear. ‘Yes sir, no sir’, deep in his faith.

“Very family oriented. Every student that has ever come in contact with him would say ‘That’s a fundamentally good guy.’?”

Faucher, before he left campus over a week ago in a dispute with school officials, said that the basketball community was planning fundraisers for Cosby family to help defray escalating medical costs. One idea has been to donate the proceeds of the annual Midnight Madness game against Rivier University, which the Eagles are hosting at 12:01 a.m. Nov. 15.

“Hopefully,” Faucher said, “the community can get involved as well.”

Cosby was the cornerstone of Faucher’s program for four years. Doctors inserted a rod in the former Eagle’s back to try, as Faucher said, “to stabilize things.”

“The doctors aren’t talking any percentages at all,” he said in terms of regaining full use of his limbs. “It’s very, very difficult. A lot of people don’t recover from this type of spinal cord thing. He can’t even move his finger.”

The players, Faucher said, knew of Cosby’s situation almost immediately. They were all close, as they would work out with Cosby even in off-hours on the court.

“They were hit pretty hard by it,” Faucher said. “And the latest setback has been a hit for everyone. It’s a real tough time for the family.”

At the same time, Cosby’s positive energy has been an inspiration to the DWC community.

“For someone who is in such a very difficult position, (he) still has such great spirit,’’ Belbin said. “his spirit hasn’t been broken, even if his body has.”