A Story On Survival: Green Country Man Perseveres To Find New Life After Injury In Iraq

A Story On Survival: Green Country Man Perseveres To Find New Life After Injury In Iraq

A Green Country man has an amazing story of survival.

He went from a professional BMX rider with a shot at the Olympics, to a man serving his country after 9/11, to dying three times, after his Humvee was blown up in Iraq.

Lori Fullbright brings us an Oklahoma's Own Original, filled with heartbreak and agony, but also perseverance and hope.

Shane Vincent first got on a bike when he was 2.

He grew up in Sapulpa and was a national and world champion at a young age on the BMX circuit.

He also grew up believing God was guiding his path.

And while he wanted to turn pro, he always had a desire to serve his country.

"I can't explain it, just that desire, passion in my heart to do that," says Vincent.

He was 15 when the 9/11 terrorist attack happened and he started talking about enlisting, but, when he turned 18, he turned pro and the next year, won the Grand Nationals in Tulsa.

But his heart was no longer in it, so when he turned 20, he walked away from being a pro athlete and joined the Army.

"I wanted to protect my family and people in my country,” says Vincent.

Just as he'd done in extreme sports, Shane excelled in the military, earning a coveted spot in the Airborne.

About that time, he also got accepted into the Army's World Class Athlete program, to train in BMX for the 2008 Olympics.

So, Shane turned down the Airborne, got a hometown assignment and married his childhood sweetheart, Sharon, a girl he’d known since he was 13.

They were 21.

"I went to my squadron commander, Lt. Col and he said, 'Aw, congrats, that's a privilege but we're deploying in six months and it's more important you deploy than go into that program," says Vincent.

He was in Iraq in 2006 and 2007.

Seven months into his deployment, the Army decided to release Shane so he could compete at the Olympic games and as always, he believed God had a plan.

"God, you know what you're doing. Got to come here to fight for my country but now I get to go race bikes,” says Vincent.

It would take a few months, so missions continued.

On May 24th, 2007, after a day of finding and destroying IEDs on a route to Mosul, on their way back to base, they saw it, a detonator cord stretched across the road with a fishing line.

They couldn't miss it and their Humvee took the full force of 1,500 pounds of explosives.

"It threw our Humvee 50 meters, 150 feet. The Humvee behind us could see our taillights, probably 150 feet up in the air," recalls Vincent.

The blast site was unimaginable. Shane and his friend, Casey Zillman, were thrown out.

Casey was killed and Shane was alive, against all odds.

He says through all his injuries in life; hit twice by a car, shot in the leg as a child and the injuries during biking, he had always bounced back and it gave him a feeling of being invincible.

"In Iraq, I'd see things happen to other guys, but, it won't happen to me, I'm good," says Vincent.

He had a skull fracture, traumatic brain injury, broken neck, his back was blown out, he had 150 breaks in his hips and pelvis and a broken shoulder, fractured jaw and teeth and his organs were so swollen, they had to cut him from his chest to his pelvis, just to make room for them.

His wife and parents were told to prepare to say their goodbyes.

"I died three times. My heart stopped," says Vincent.

He woke up three weeks later from a medically induced coma at Walter Reed Hospital in DC with his wife and parents telling him, it was okay, but, nothing was okay.

One week after the explosion, he'd been re-accepted into the Olympics program, but that dream was over.

The military gave him retirement papers, so that dream, too, was over.

He was 22.

"I'm in miserable pain, laying on a couch, no purpose anymore, not the same person I used to be, mentally, physically, anything whatsoever," says Vincent.

After 10 months in the hospital followed by years of defying doctors who said he could be brain-damaged or paralyzed for life and would never have children.

And, through it all, his young wife was by his side, his caretaker and cheerleader.

She gave him strength, but he no longer knew if God was real and no longer cared, and he decided he would do it on his own, his own way.

He filled up with pills, alcohol, pornography, strip clubs, you name it.

Counseling didn't work. He overdosed, then, the first of two life-altering moments...He went to his car and put his gun to his head, just as his son walked through the door.

"What's going to happen to him? My dad overcame all of this but killed himself. It was a choice after that. That was a big transformation, big start to changing, you know," says Vincent.

He now wanted to live, but, still on his own terms.

His next obsession was getting fit, thinking he could out-train the damage, but his damage was on the inside.

And, through it all, his wife remained by his side, never wavering, even as he admits, he made mistake after mistake after mistake.

And then, in 2019, the second life-altering moment.

The woman who had been there through it all for 12 years, dished out a dose of tough love.

"She said, if you continue to live this way, we're divorcing and at that point, I was like, what do I do? And I said, God, I can't do this on my own, I need your help," recalls Vincent.

That's the moment, true healing began. He turned to his Bible, ditched the pills, cleared his mind and became the man she married, the one she told him, she always knew was there.

"She stuck with me. She persevered. She's the reason I'm here. She's the reason I'm the man I am today," says Vincent.

His focus is now being the best husband and father he can be and he's not just grateful to be alive, he’s grateful for every horrible, miserable step of his journey, because it brought him closer to God and still does.

"I didn't do any of this. I give it totally to God," says Vincent.

Shane received numerous honors from the military including a Purple Heart and he was recently inducted into the BMX Hall of Fame and he's glad for all of that, but says it doesn't define who he is. He is only defined as a child of God and he now shares his story with sports teams, churches and prisons.