Former athlete turns to art after suffering traumatic brain injury

Published: Apr. 26, 2016 at 5:28 PM EDT|Updated: May. 6, 2016 at 5:39 PM EDT
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Jherad Gholson has now turned to art to connect with others. (Source: Facebook)
Jherad Gholson has now turned to art to connect with others. (Source: Facebook)

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - A former athlete's dreams of playing professional football came to a screeching halt following a devastating tackle on the field.

Jherad Gholson is now living with the effects of a traumatic brain injury (TBI), but the former athlete has now found a new purpose that's inspiring others.

What happens to a dream that shatters while in the midst of pursuing it?

"I was the linebacker, the warrior. I was basically the head of the defense," Gholson recalls.

He wears sunglasses to protect his eyes from light, a result of the football tackle that changed his life forever while playing for Matoaca High School.

"Having a TBI is not a walk in the park for him or for us. … He looks fine. He's struggling with a lot of issues," said his mother Dannielle White-Gholson.

She serves as a support system as he battles bouts of anxiety.

"Is that any mom's worst fear that your baby on the field is going to get hurt," NBC 12 asked.

"Absolutely and a lot of times I would show up late so I wouldn't have to see so much of it," his mother said.

Now the former athlete has turned to art as an outlet.

"We have hundreds of pictures of 'No Signal,'" he explains.

"No Signal" is the name of his traveling exhibit, now on display at the Petersburg Library. He got the name from taking a look at his own story, comparing it to a television that's lost its reception.

"When you get the mixed signals and patterns and squiggly lines," he explains.

It was a moment in life that caused him to search his soul for new purpose.

"I was like I've got to do this, I've got to get myself motivated. … It was an eye opener that you can do more than football," Gholson said.

"His resiliency has come back. He's a fighter. He's fighting daily," said White-Gholson.

But with the colors of art, he's getting through it, although he may never tackle again.

"I can get through this. It's a test that God has given me," he said.

And he's determined to pass with flying colors.

"Art can also take you places that football may have never taken you," said White-Gholson.

Gholson's work will be on display at the library through the end of the month.

He will also hold a viewing at The Hippodrome in June.