There was some scary news this past spring, but after some time off, Lee Corso has recovered a mild stroke that he suffered. According to the Orlando Sentinel, Corso is doing well and will be returning to College Gameday, once the season gets underway….
Nearly three months later, Corso is piecing his life together again. He’s graduated from physical therapy but remains in occupational and speech therapy. The stroke affected his right side. He is learning to write all over again, just like he’s learned to talk all over again.
Speaking publicly for the first time since the stroke, Corso sat down outside a Starbucks in Longwood a few days ago, took a few sips of an iced tea, and told a story etched in transformation.
A man who has reinvented himself once already — going from a struggling football coach to a glib gridiron guru — is plotting another magnificent makeover. He will be back on TV once fall football begins. The ironic twist in the challenge is obvious: A chatterbox got silenced by a stroke. His voice, as he says, is “the ultimate thing for me.”
He speaks fine now. There are a few quirky moments when things don’t quite connect, like when he’s trying to recall precise moments through the fog of recovery. A critical step was passing a swallow test, he says, “inside the hotel (pause), inside the airport (pause), inside the hospital.” It took three times, but he finally found the right word.
But don’t feel sorry for Corso. He doesn’t. He knows he’s blessed.
He’s piecing it all together slowly. He works out every day. Gathers strength in his right hand by squeezing Silly Putty. Twice a week, it’s speech therapy. “Rrrrrrrrrrrrrr,” he says, mimicking one of the tongue exercises, then moving his tongue side to side, cheek to cheek. “When I first started I felt my tongue weighed 80 pounds. And I slobbered. I’m getting better at that. I’m trying to get the brain to realize that you can do this.”
The blessed part? Like most people who suffer trauma, he’s gathered perspective and appreciation for life. Blessed by a family, including his wife, three sons and a daughter. Blessed by his “day job” if you will, as director of business development for Dixon Ticonderoga. It’s the company’s No. 2 pencils you see when Corso waves them at Kirk Herbstreit to make a point on GameDay. Blessed by getting to know people who cared from him unconditionally. Doctors, nurses, and the orderlies who bathed him during the first days of his hospital stay.
It’s amazing that Lee has recovered in such a short time, and that he’ll be able to return to Gameday. Sure he’s a little wacky, but the show just wouldn’t feel the same without him. The show is rumored to be kicking off in Atlanta, for the Alabama-Virginia Tech game, so that’s when we’ll get our first look at the new Corso.
Lee Corso won’t let the stroke he suffered in May slow him down (Orlando Sentinel)