Ronnie Adams, 19, laid in the hospital bed unable to move. He said the pain, almost too heavy to bear, was not near as devastating as the reality that was weighing on his young heart.
The doctors told him he would never move again.
It seemed impossible. He was one of Kentucky’s top high school basketball players trapped in a prison of pillows and white sheets. If he was hungry, nurses fed him. He couldn’t even roll over in bed by himself; he was turned every two hours to prevent bed sores.
It had been months since the coal mine accident, and nothing had changed.
“When you’re 19 and a doctor tells you you’ll never move; never be independent; never have a normal life… you believe it,” said Adams, now 64, sitting in his Northern Kentucky home. “What do you do with that? It’s hard to hear. I cried for months. I woke up one morning and had a thought, I had cried and cried, yet nothing changed. My face and eyes hurt on top of being stuck in a wheelchair. The crying didn’t accomplish much.”
Adams said he realized that the definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing over and over expecting a different outcome.
He stopped crying.
“I realized, I didn’t have hope,” Adams said of his younger self. “Without hope you can’t be encouraged and without encouragement there’s no chance for things to get better. So, I decided to have hope. I’ve been through a lot, and I’ve accomplished a lot in the last 45 years and I’ve done it by holding on to hope.”
Determined to escape a life of poverty, Adams struggled through Murray State University and Chase College of Law (where, by his third year, he was invited to help create the JD/MBA program), eventually becoming a successful lawyer in Northern Kentucky. His practice focuses primarily on bankruptcy, family, disability and personal injury law.
Recently Adams sat down with his friend Fred Anderson to record his story. In his upcoming memoir, Coal mine to Courtroom, Ron shares his story of survival and his journey of faith driven by a desperate search for a miracle. Along the way, he encountered Hollywood psychics, TV preachers, tough professors, fickle girlfriends, a dishonest lawyer, stern judges, and a few good friends.
The book will be released March 15 and is available at Amazon.com. Adams will make a series of appearances too, beginning 5 to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 16, at Roebling Point Books & Coffee, 306 Greenup St., Covington.
Adams’ friend and co-author of his memoir, Fred Anderson, said he is honored to have helped Adams with Coal Mine to Courtroom.
“My role was to help Ron communicate issues that are important to him, in a way that will entertain the average reader,” he said. “Hopefully, we came close to achieving that goal. I like the combination of humor, drama and inspiration.”
Adams said he wrote his book because he wants to inspire others and encourage their faith.
“Lying in that hospital bed all those years ago, I realized there is a God and He loves me and I have hope in Him,” Adams said. “He wasn’t going to allow what happened in the coal mine to happen and leave me there.”
Adams said the secret to his survival and success were “baby steps.”
“It’s like driving with your headlights on at night,” Adams said. “You can’t see your destination, but with them on you can see about 100 feet in front of you and you’re able to move forward and eventually you will reach your destination.”
Anderson called Adams the “personification of determination.”
“When he sets his mind to something, he does not give up,” he said. “He is also one of the friendliest people you will ever meet. I am proud to know him.”
Looking back on all his struggles – the results of the accident, a difficult start in law school, and the early years in his law practice – Adams said he really has no regrets.
“Who am I to say my injury was a mistake,” he said. “I’ve done far more in my life than I could imagine. That’s to the glory of God. We don’t always understand the big picture but because of what I’ve been through, maybe I can encourage someone who needs hope. If it helps them, then what I’ve gone through has all been worth it, it’s done someone else good.”