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Kivlehan honors injured friend with 'Believe'

MLB.com @m_sheldon

CINCINNATI -- When Reds players were tasked to decide what nickname they wanted on their jerseys for Players Weekend -- which began Friday -- outfielder/infielder Patrick Kivlehan came up with something less nickname and more in the way of a tribute to a friend and former teammate.

Kivlehan played college football for four seasons at Rutgers University and was teammates with Eric LeGrand, who was paralyzed while making a tackle in a 2010 game. LeGrand's well-known mantra since his injury has been "Believe," and that's the word that is above Kivlehan's No. 3 this weekend.

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CINCINNATI -- When Reds players were tasked to decide what nickname they wanted on their jerseys for Players Weekend -- which began Friday -- outfielder/infielder Patrick Kivlehan came up with something less nickname and more in the way of a tribute to a friend and former teammate.

Kivlehan played college football for four seasons at Rutgers University and was teammates with Eric LeGrand, who was paralyzed while making a tackle in a 2010 game. LeGrand's well-known mantra since his injury has been "Believe," and that's the word that is above Kivlehan's No. 3 this weekend.

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"I talked to a couple of old roommates from college and they said, 'Why don't you throw 'Believe,' on there for Eric?' I thought that was a great idea," Kivlehan said. "I just wanted to make sure he was cool with it. He was cool with it. I told him I'd get him one."

LeGrand suffered his spinal cord injury Oct. 16, 2010, against Army at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey while tackling a player after a kickoff.

"We came in together," Kivlehan said. "We were in the same recruiting class and graduated at the same time. I was on the field with him when he got injured."

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Kivlehan was a safety, and also played on special teams. He did not play baseball until his senior year, but still won the Big East conference triple crown and player of the year honors in 2012.

LeGrand's story became an inspiration for others with spinal cord injuries, as he has worked to gain more feeling in his body and efforts to try and walk again. Rutgers eventually started the Believe Foundation and LeGrand has written two books about his life with paralysis. In 2012, he received the Jimmy V. Award for Perseverance at ESPN's Espy Awards.

"He's honestly become the face of paralysis and the guy who everyone looks at," Kivlehan said. "He's taken that on and run with it. He's done some great things and has inspired a lot of people. He's only going to do more."

Kivlehan is cherishing the chance to wear "Believe" on his Reds jersey.

"It's something that sticks with the guys I played with at Rutgers, and kind of the whole Rutgers community," Kivlehan said. "It was too good of an opportunity to pass up to honor him and everything he's gone through and been through. I wanted to let him know I am thinking about him, and he's always with me."

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Cincinnati Reds, Patrick Kivlehan