January 4, 2010 started like any other day for Aaron Taylor. He woke up at 5 a.m., ate breakfast with his father, grabbed his lunch and was out the door. He started his truck and drove toward work. Little did he know three miles into his journey, his life would change forever.
Taylor, 21, is the third of four children. The natural athlete played multiple sports while being home-schooled, and was an accomplished surfer and skim boarder. He also competed in several lifeguard competitions as a teenager. He was a popular guy, and spent lots of time surrounded by friends. He was a hard worker, and started his first job at age 15.
As Taylor made his way to work, a distracted driver pulled out in front of his truck. There was nothing he could do and they hit head on. Taylor’s truck was destroyed, the cab and bed separating from the frame. The impact was so violent, the seat belt broke his collarbone, his right femur snapped in half, his ankle was destroyed, and most of his face was smashed. The list of Taylor’s injuries reads like an anatomy exam.
It would be nine days before Taylor woke up. When he finally did, he first asked for his family. He did not know where he was, nor did he know how old he was, which he describes as being weird. He was talking to a nurse, but he could not figure out why he could not see or use his arms or legs.
Taylor spent the next few months recovering from multiple surgeries. First, his right femur was rebuilt with a titanium rod. His face was reconstructed with alloy – one eye socket is made out of titanium, the other held together with steel mesh.
While in the hospital, Taylor was told he might never walk, run or surf again. Those words hit him hard, but he was determined to face whatever outcome with a positive attitude.
“We asked Aaron if he was entering the Open and he looked at us like we were crazy … almost like there was no other answer but yes ..."
“I said to myself, ‘No, my God is good and he'll heal me the way he wants me to be.” His condition began to improve and he amazed doctors with how fast his body was recovering.
More time passed and Taylor found himself visiting family in Maryland. It was raining one day, and he decided to scan the TV channels. He stopped on the CrossFit Games. Taylor knew that he was on to something. He had already decided that he was going to find the CrossFit affiliate closest to his home and start as soon as possible.
Ron Murray, owner of CrossFit eXalted, remembers the day he first met Taylor. Murray describes him as shy, timid and very quiet. Taylor arrived with his father, and they immediately began talking about all of the things that CrossFit could offer. It would not be long before he was completing CrossFit workouts on a daily basis.
“Aaron still has some issues with pushing his head through on overhead lifts, but it’s only because of his injuries,” Murray says. “Aaron is the type of person that just has it.”
According to Murray, Taylor has gone through several changes. He no longer is the shy, quiet guy. He mixes it up with others before, during and after workouts. The kid that once had a deadlift PR of 175 pounds is now pulling 455. They guy that was told he may never walk again completed “Jason” in a little more than 30 minutes.
As talk of the Open began resonating around CrossFit eXalted, Taylor knew he was entering. “We asked Aaron if he was entering the Open and he looked at us like we were crazy … almost like there was no other answer but yes,” Murray says.
Taylor completed 104 burpees in Open Workout 12.1. In Week 2 he completed 60 reps. Unable to do a snatch at 165, he completed all 30 at 135.
Workout 12.3 was another solid performance for Taylor as he completed 7 rounds and 9 box jumps. He did 216 reps 12.4 and 90 for 12.5. Although none of his performances garnered a top-60 finish, completing them was victory enough.
Taylor’s CrossFit Games profile sums up his spirit and drive. “After the accident, doctors told me that I would never be able to run or surf again. I found CrossFit and contrary to what I was told by these doctors, I can run, I can deadlift, clean and jerk, squat, snatch, perform muscle-ups, box jumps, handstand walks … I can CrossFit. On October 27, 2011, I became a reborn athlete,” he says.
Before CrossFit, Taylor’s goals were to walk and surf again. He wanted to find a job and become more self-sufficient. Now, he has bigger goals. He wants to make the Games. Not just sometime in the future, but 2013.
He currently works at CrossFit eXalted, and is working on just that.