Yale Athletics sadly announced the passing of Jim MacLaren '85, a standout lacrosse and football athlete who went on to receive a masters in theatre studies from the Yale School of Drama. He died earlier this week after a long illness.
While undergoing his masters studies, MacLaren was hit by a bus in New York City and had to have his leg amputated at the knee. At that time, he started swimming, and was ready to resume life as an athlete while paving the way for a new generation of disabled athletes. He competed and set scores of records in some of the toughest races on the planet, including the New York City Marathon and the Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii. He routinely finished ahead of 80 percent of the able-bodied athletes.
On June 6, 1993, his life took another cruel turn. He was in Mission Viejo, Calif., racing another triathlon. Two miles into the bike leg, on a closed course, a traffic marshal misjudged MacLaren's speed approaching an intersection. The marshal directed a van to cross the street, and the van and MacLaren collided. MacLaren broke his neck at the C5 vertebrae, paralyzing him.
Slowly, MacLaren pulled himself back again, grappling with seemingly insurmountable obstacles and even reclaiming some motor function of his limbs. His sheer determination made him a best-selling author, motivational speaker and inspiration to friends and strangers alike. In addition, it was the foundation for his receiving the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the 2005 ESPY Awards and the 2008 NCAA Inspiration Award.
He was also honored by his alma mater with the distinguished Kiphuth Medal, the highest honor bestowed by the Yale Athletic Department.
Yale Athletics expresses its condolences to Jim's sister, Jennifer Hippensteel, and the rest of the MacLaren family. The thoughts and prayers from Bulldogs around the globe are with them.