It's been five years since then-Rutgers football player Eric LeGrand was paralyzed from the neck down after making a tackle.

In that time, one person's been by his side constantly — the same person he says made him the man he is today. Karen LeGrand, his mother, has been ever-present in her son's life throughout his arduous recovery and dogged advocacy.

In a touching letter published Wednesday on, LeGrand said when he thinks about his mother, he thinks about how "tough, stern and responsible you are."

He thinks about how she raised him and his sister as a single mother. How she drove his sister every day to a better school than the one their original hometown of Elizabeth could provide. How she sacrificed. How she insisted he practice at Pop Warner football when he thought he was too good to need to. He thinks about how she was "definitely one of the loudest fans at the game."

When LeGrand was paralyzed, he said, she had a choice — let him figure out life on his own, or take control and support him.

"You chose the second option, which meant you couldn’t work. It meant you sleeping on a tiny cot for five months at the Kessler Institute in West Orange, New Jersey, which to this day leaves you with aching back pains. You have to deal with my nurses, make sure all my delivered medical supplies are correct and on time, and take me to therapy, speaking engagements and radio shows — all while trying to live your life," LeGrand wrote.

The former football player wrote that his mother has "dedicated your life to helping me be great and be the man that I am today, and I cannot thank you enough for everything you’ve done for me." No matter how much she had to put her own life on hold, she always would, he said.

"Thank you for everything you do for me, Mama Dukes. I love you."

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