YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Youngstown State University has a new football player this season who has overcome quite the obstacle to get to where he is today.

Dante Walker was only nine years old when a bike ride left him in critical condition.

“I was going down a hill, and I was doing what kids do — trying to go down the hill with no hands on the handlebars, and I lost control,” Walker said.

He flipped the bike and the handlebar went straight into him. Something on the bike impaled him and went into his groin.

He had to have emergency surgery at Saint Elizabeth Hospital in Youngstown.

“At that point, Saint E’s was not doing pediatrics. Like that wasn’t their main focus, so their hope was to get him to Akron Children’s, but the doctors didn’t think they had time to put him on a helicopter,” said Kristine Ferradino, Walker’s mother.

Richard Memo is a urologist and one of the people credited with saving Walker’s life.

“It became apparent that we had to save his leg because now this massive blood loss was coming from the main vein that drains blood from the leg,” Memo said.

Memo says they weren’t sure if Walker was going to lose his leg or have long-term swelling.

He also says that was the first time he had treated an injury that severe in a child, but the operation was successful and Walker’s leg was saved.

“As I’m looking at my career — now, I’m toward the end of my career — it’s certainly one of the highlight stories of my career,” Memo said.

He says the reason he and others go into medicine is to help people like Walker.

“It feels great to be able to play football nine years later. I really didn’t think I would be in this position, but I am, and I thank God every day for it,” Walker said.

The running back will be studying exercise science this fall at YSU. He says he can’t wait for the football season to start.