April 24, 2012
Keeping the Faith: Landon Brazell
By Shelby Levy

"I think the biggest thing that got me through was knowing that God had control, and no matter what, I wouldn't give up."

Faith plays a huge role in many CrossFitters’ lives. Landon Brazell, owner of CrossFit Embrace and 13th-place finisher in the CrossFit Games Open for the South East, says it was his faith and the faith of those around him that helped pull him through a life-threatening injury suffered last August at a local CrossFit competition.

Brazell, 29, was participating in a head-to-head match-up against fellow Regional competitor Brian Prochaska (10th in the South East) consisting of snatches and toes-through-rings. While on the rings, Brazell slipped and fell 7 feet to a concrete floor, landing on his head. He was rushed to a local hospital where he was bleeding internally and diagnosed with multiple skull fractures. He was airlifted to Northside Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, where neurosurgeons were standing by to perform brain surgery.

Brazell’s wife and business partner, Keisha Brazell (50th in the South East), and his mother called on friends and family to pray for him. “As soon as Landon was airlifted, I texted every friend that I knew would lift him up in prayer. I then called my mom. She passed the word on to all of our family and her friends. Our pastor was contacted as well as our Sunday school teachers and numerous church members. Within an hour, tons of people had requests for prayer for Landon as their status on Facebook,” Keisha recalls.

Miraculously, the bleeding in Brazell’s brain stopped by the time he reached Northside Hospital, and the surgery was called off. ”I know 100 percent without a doubt that the prayers that went up were exactly what stopped the bleeding in his brain,” Keisha says. “I wasn't allowed to ride in the helicopter with him. I was told that by the time I got to the hospital in Atlanta, he would be in surgery. You can't begin to imagine the feelings that overcame me when I saw him in a hospital room and not on a surgery table.”

Brazell spent the next 11 days in the hospital in extreme pain with Keisha by his side. “For the first 48 hours, I was unable to receive any form of pain medication for the fear that it might make me unconscious. I was conscious the whole time but couldn't tell you what went on for the first three or four days,” Brazell says. “I had excruciating headaches. Any form of light or noise made them even more severe. The room was kept dark the entire time and anyone who came in had to whisper. The doctors told my wife a fall like mine should have killed me and that I should never do CrossFit again.  They also said there was no way I could ever compete again.”

Doctors prepared Brazell for the worst telling him that he may suffer memory loss, speech impairment, and physical disabilities as a result of his head trauma. After 11 days, he was able to return home where he continued to recover, still unable to handle bright lights and noises. After four weeks, he was able to take short walks around his neighborhood.

Against all odds, two weeks later, Brazell made it back to CrossFit Embrace where he eventually resumed his training for the CrossFit Open. Throughout the entire ordeal, family and friends continued to pray for Brazell’s recovery. “I think the biggest thing that got me through was knowing that God had control, and no matter what, I wouldn't give up. He had a purpose, and I know that one day it will be revealed for His glory,” Brazell says. 

Brazell has been an athlete all of his life. After playing baseball for the University of Alabama and Troy University, he was a free agent for the Florida Marlins. A friend introduced him to CrossFit by challenging him to do Murph. That tapped into Brazell’s athletic background and competitive nature. “That first CrossFit workout quickly led me to doing two WODs a week, then three, and before I knew it, that was all I wanted to do.”

“My wife and I, along with a group of friends, started doing a few WODs a week in the back of a baseball facility that I was training athletes at. A few people told a few more people about it, and before you knew it, we had a group of 50 people showing up wanting to learn what CrossFit was all about,” he says. “My wife and I were both personal trainers at a globo gym, but at that point, we saw the opportunity before us. We immediately signed up for a Level One certification and began the preparations of opening our own box. We opened the doors with 50 members and have since grown to 200-plus members in a year-and-a-half.” CrossFit Embrace recently finished 11th in the South East’s team division.

Brazell finished in 11th place at the 2011 South East Regionals, which he says fueled him during this past year’s training. He typically trains three days on, one day off, and does multiple workouts several times a week, including swimming. He does his own programming though he has been following Rudy Nielsen’s Outlaw Way to prepare for Regionals. “I feel I am 50 percent better than I was last year at this time,” he says. “My injury has given me a new perspective on life, and I am excited that I still get to compete.”

While he was in the hospital, several friends sent Brazell the scripture Jeremiah 30:17: ‘For I will restore you to health and heal your wounds.’ His wife posted this same verse on a piece of paper for him to look at every day. Though he says he has never been a “tattoo guy,” Brazell recently decided to get Jeremiah 30:17 tattooed on the side of his torso. “I felt like it was the best way to show others what God can take you through.”

“I hope that my story will reach someone and change their life one day. My faith is definitely stronger, and I know that my body is stronger than ever. God has fully restored me and healed my wounds, and I am grateful for every opportunity I have to show that.”

Height: 6’
Weight: 200
Fran: 2:33
Helen: 8:12
Grace: 2:18
Filthy 50: 21:00
Fight Gone Bad: 407
Clean & Jerk: 275 pounds
Snatch: 195 pounds
Deadlift: 515 pounds
Back Squat 425 pounds
Max Pull-ups: 65