Battling Bruin: Nick

Posted September 2013

When it comes to adversity, Nick Ekbatani ᾿09 fancies himself an expert. Since his childhood, Ekbatani has been forced to find ways to turn lemons into lemonade. As a young boy dealing with the dysfunction of a broken home and the constant bullying at school, he found sanctuary in sports, particularly football. He trained rigorously, day in and day out as an escape from the negativity. His hard work eventually made him an All-State high school football player and landed him a scholarship to play for his dream school: UCLA.

Being the first of his family to attend college, Ekbatani vowed to make the most of his experience at UCLA. Considered too small to play offensive line in college, Ekbatani gained nearly 100 pounds throughout his collegiate career. His hard work continued to bring him success on the field and in the classroom as he became a two-year starter for the Bruins and a two-time All-Conference Academic selection. After a brief stint practicing with the St. Louis Rams, Ekbatani decided it was time to move on from football and segue into the next chapter of his life.

In the six months following the conclusion of his football career, Ekbatani lost the 100 pounds he gained for football. Applying the same effort he learned as a multi-tasking student-athlete, he enjoyed a career as a football recruiting analyst for ESPN as well as doing fitness and sports modeling on the side. Things were finally going smoothly for the young man, until one fateful night...

While driving his motorcycle on the night of Sept. 14, 2012, Ekbatani was struck by a speeding van. Pronounced dead at the scene of the accident, Ekbatani was eventually revived and brought to the nearest trauma center. He suffered multiple injuries, including a severely fractured skull, four compound fractures in his femur, and irreparable damage to his foot, ultimately resulting in the amputation of his left leg below the knee. After waking up from a short coma and being delivered the news, Ekbatani responded by saying, “Everything happens for a reason. No whining, no complaining, no excuses.”

In the year following the accident, Ekbatani has persevered the transition to life on one leg, a life threatening bone infection and 11 surgeries. He has remained relentlessly positive, staying true to the virtues he attained as a UCLA student-athlete: working hard, never allowing contentment and never giving up. Now walking and learning to run on specialized prosthetic legs, Ekbatani strives to one day represent the USA as a member of the Paralympic Track and Field Team. Ekbatani realizes that instead of being made disabled, he has been enabled - enabled with purpose, enabled with meaning, enabled to inspire.

Currently, he does talks about his story and the mindset required to advance through adversity. He is also beginning to make his way in the entertainment industry as an actor, host and performer. Starting this fall, after being selected as a Swim With Mike Scholarship Recipient, he will begin the M.B.A. program at The Marshall School of Business at USC.

Ekbatani strives to make a difference in the lives of all he encounters. He strives to be a reality check personified. His message: “Never give up. Never stop chasing the light at the tunnel no matter how dark it may seem.”

About Battling Bruins » | All Battling Bruins »