(WCIA) — Illini Nation has rallied around Illinois football player Bobby Roundtree, who suffered a severe spinal injury earlier this summer.
One of Roundtree’s biggest supporters has been head coach Lovie Smith. Smith traveled to Roundtree’s hospital in Florida, and spent several days with him in the hospital. Illinois Athletic director Josh Whitman says this is a testament to Smith’s character.
“I think it speaks to a lot of the things that Lovie and I talked about the very first time I met him,” says Whitman. “First time I went to Tampa and sat with Lovie at his kitchen table, we talked about his recruiting philosophy and he said, ‘Josh I won’t recruit anybody to Champaign that I don’t want to be a part my family for the rest of my life.’ I’ve never forgotten that.
Roundtree, a defensive-tackle from Largo, Fla has since been relocated to a hospital in Chicago where he will undergo rehabilitation.
“I think that this entire situation with Bobby has demonstrated that in spades,” says Whitman. “To see the way that he has cared for Bobby, the way that he has been present for Bobby has really been moving for me. I feel very fortunate that he is our head football coach and I think it’s unique among his peers to see him there and active in the way he was. It was a very special thing for him to do that.”