Ex-Pittsburgh Steelers LB Ryan Shazier starts nonprofit for spinal injury patients

Shazier announces retirement from football (2:15)

Ryan Shazier announces on Twitter that he'll be leaving football, citing his spinal cord injury suffered back in 2017. (2:15)

PITTSBURGH -- Three years removed from suffering his own spinal cord injury, former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier is paying it forward.

Shazier launched a new nonprofit, the Ryan Shazier Fund for Spinal Rehabilitation, to support spinal cord injury patients, he announced Tuesday.

"I'm truly excited to announce the Ryan Shazier Fund for Spinal Rehabilitation," Shazier said in a statement posted to Twitter. "My team and I have been working behind the scenes to find ways to continue to push forward progress for the spinal cord community. One step at a time we will change how people view spinal injuries."

Shazier, who formally retired from football earlier this year, suffered an on-field spinal cord injury in 2017 and was given just a 20% chance to walk again. He not only learned how to walk, he also danced with his wife at their wedding two years after the injury.

In launching the foundation, Shazier wants to support others with spinal cord injuries and give them some of the resources he received in his rehabilitation after the injury.

"My injury has helped me see firsthand what the SCI community goes through every day and the inequities people face when it comes to getting the care they need," Shazier said in a news release. "I want to be there for people who are going through similar struggles, including their caregivers and families."

His announcement was met with support from his former organization, including social media posts from coach Mike Tomlin and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Roethlisberger tweeted: "Congratulations! .... Wishing you & your foundation all the success in the world! #Steelers"

Because of the cost of rehabilitation, many who suffer spinal cord injuries aren't able to receive the same care Shazier got, and his foundation aims to help with that.

"The mission of the Ryan Shazier Fund for Spinal Rehabilitation is to optimize recovery and build an empowering community for SCI patients, families and caregivers," William Kassling, chair of the fund's newly appointed board of directors, said in the release. "More than 90% of SCI cases are caused by a sudden and unexpected traumatic event. Our initial focus will raise money to help those living with sports-related and vehicular accident injuries."