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High school wrestler paralyzed from neck down after injury

Ryan Joseph

CBS SF Bay Area

PLEASANT HILL, Calif. -- A high school community is rallying behind a teenager who suffered a life-changing injury. Ryan Joseph was hurt during a wrestling match. He is now paralyzed from the neck down, CBS SF Bay Area reports.

At College Park High School in Pleasant Hill, the school's webpage calls the 16-year-old sophomore "everyone's friend." 

Joseph suffered a C4 spinal cord injury during a Junior Varsity wrestling match last week. (C4 refers to one of the vertebrae in the neck.) He was wrestling in the 160-pound weight class when he was injured. 

"This is the only time I've ever seen something like this happen," said the school's athletic coach, Jim Keck. "It was not an illegal move. It was not a move that was done with any type of malice, something that when most people in the stands saw happen, didn't think much of it."

Joseph, who is the son of former Del La Salle football and wrestling Hall of Famer Tom Joseph, competed in wrestling and lacrosse at the high school. He is now at the trauma center at John Muir in Walnut Creek. 

"The first thing that Tom said when I saw him at the hospital, I saw him Saturday, when this was really, really, really fresh, was, 'I've got a son. His brain is in perfect working condition, he's still joking with us,' and I think that's what's gonna get them through."

The wrestling team is designing T-shirts that read, "Falcon Family Wrestling for Ryan." 

"It's really devastating, because he was very [much] about sports, athletic stuff and passionate toward other people," said fellow student Kayli Shimoto. "When people found out ... all his friends and teachers, like, it's just really sad."

The school has updated students on how Joseph is doing and counselors were on campus Tuesday to talk with students.

Meanwhile, his family said he has really appreciated all the cards and messages that have come his way to the hospital.