Spirits were high for the Davis family as their son Shemar was celebrating a 26-7 homecoming win for the Midland Legacy Rebels over the Belton Tigers. The Davis family went to bed resting easy until 3:30 a.m., when they received a call from Abilene about their older son, Sema’J.
On Oct. 8, 2020, ACU quarterback Sema’J Davis’ life was altered in a three-car accident on Ambler Avenue near ACU. A car speeding more than 100 mph ran a red light and hit Sema’J head on. He was care-flighted to a hospital in Fort Worth with a broken femur, clavicle and severe head trauma.
Now, two years later, the former Wildcats football star said he has made “leaps and bounds” in his recovery and is looking to get back onto the gridiron. Although he has no timeline, he does have the will to play and believes God will provide the timing.
“If I put in the work to play football again, sure, it’s out there, so I’ll be able to play again,” Davis said. “I’m just really waiting on His time. Whenever He says ‘you’re good,’ I know I’m good.”
Hours before the accident, Sema’J called his younger brother, Shemar, congratulating him on his homecoming win. Shemar had received calls from numerous recruiters after the game. The joy in Shemar that night lifted the spirits of the Davis family. Shemar and Sema’J’s parents, Earl and Michelle, said they were excited for both of their boys that night.
“They worked really hard to get to the point that they were at,” Michelle said. “Then just getting that call at 3:30 in the morning, your heart just falls to the floor. You’re in shock. We were stunned, didn’t know how to react. We didn’t know the extent of the injury or if he was still with us. It was just a lot of figuring out what was really going on and getting facts at that time.”
At first, no one was sure if Sema’J was the one involved in the accident. After Michelle described each birthmark, scar and physical features of her son, Sema’J was identified as the one involved. Forty-five minutes after the accident happened, the Davis’ packed their bags and drove to Abilene. Because of the significant injuries, Sema’J was airlifted to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, a trauma center.
“I just had to prepare and rest in the fact that God was going to take care of him,” Michelle said. “Sure enough, He gave us His supernatural peace to get there.”
Road to recovery amid abundant support
As Sema’J fought for his life, he tested positive for COVID-19. He was unable to see his family but started physical therapy and began to respond to more commands as his treatment continued.
During the week of Christmas 2020, Sema’J was discharged and admitted to rehabilitation. The day after his arrival, Davis went to physical therapy and when he came back, his therapist asked him to describe to his family what he was able to do.
“Walk,” Sema’J said.
This was the first time since the accident he had spoken. Afterward in celebration Sema’J ate chocolate pudding, his favorite dessert, and he continued to quickly progress.
“I just started crying and I’m like, ‘Wow, God, look at you, you’re so good,’” Michelle said. “I just couldn’t contain my emotions because I was like, ‘He’s back.’
Even though he wasn’t talking fluently, that same week he said his first sentence, “Merry Christmas.”
“It’s been amazing to see how God, if you allow him, how he can show you that there’s absolutely nothing impossible,” Michelle said.
Sema’J made his parents promise him that the 19-year-old who caused the accident, Simon Secundino, would not go to jail. Sema’J told his parents he forgave Secundino as he only made a mistake.
“We were like, we can’t promise that, son,” Michelle said. “He said ‘I’m still here by the grace of God. One of the things I want to do when I graduate and I start my business, I would like to hire him. I would like to give him another opportunity.’ What can you do with that, you can’t be mad.”
Shortly after the accident, a GoFundMe page was created in support of the Davis family. Quickly, the family received support from friends and family. In total, the family raised more than $65,000. The Davis’ have saved every letter sent to them during this time.
“ACU is still behind us 100% and they continue to stand behind us and support Sema’J, my hat goes off to them,” Earl said. “As a parent, you want to be upset, but you can’t. I get emotional and I cry a lot, I guess I’m the cry baby of the family.”
Where he is today
Today Sema’J is progressing faster than expected. Doctors told his parents that due to his traumatic brain injury, it was going to take time for him to recover. But the faith, fight and pure will Sema’J displayed in rehab has continued to this day. He drove from his hometown in Midland to Abilene before school started.
“You just have to know that throughout everything God, Jesus Christ, the Lord and personal savior is really close to me now,” Sema’J said. “I always listen to the voice inside of me before I react. So if something bad were to happen, something like that, I just listen, let it happen, think in my own head, but listen to God.”
After the tearful interview, Sema’J’s father, Earl, sent a song titled “Too Good to Not Believe” by Brandon Lake. The chorus says, “All the miracles I’ve seen, too good to not believe.” This is their anthem for their son’s journey.
“This is our hope and why we believe what man thinks is impossible is possible,” Earl said. “God is real.”
Maintaining his roster spot
Despite the odds, Davis still holds a spot on new head coach Keith Patterson’s roster and hopes to get back on the field. Patterson gave Davis the opportunity to speak in front of the entire team on their retreat this summer.
“Boy, I was so nervous,” Davis said. “I had so many cheers. It was just unbelievable.”
During the offseason, coach Patterson brought in more than 40 new players, many of whom had never heard Davis’ story. Patterson said he wanted his team to realize what real life adversity looks like outside of football. During practices, Patterson said, Davis gives him advice on route concepts, evaluates players and supports his teammates in every possible way.
“He’s an inspiration to our team, first of all because of the kind of person he is,” Patterson said. “He is an incredible human being, forgiving, he’s supportive. To watch him come out onto the field knowing that he’s not able to play but he comes to every single practice and he’s out there encouraging his teammates – just by him being there he inspires all of us to be the best version of ourselves.”
More than roommates, brothers
Former ACU defensive back Koy Richardson, now a defensive graduate assistant coach for ACU, was on the roster and a close friend of Sema’J’s when the accident happened. When asked how he would describe his relationship with Sema’J, Richardson said, “I don’t know how to describe it.” Sema’J quickly piped in, “It’s like a missing brother.”
Sema’J and Koy were roommates in University Park their freshman year and grew close over time through their love for football. Koy said they were always together and to this day still battle it out for bragging rights in 2K, an NBA video game. “I’m the 2K champ, right Koy?” Sema’J quips. This inseparable bond between the two made it even more difficult for Koy when he first heard about Sema’J’s accident.
“When I first heard the news, I didn’t believe it. I didn’t want to believe it,” Richardson said. “It really hurt me during that time. Like I won’t be able to see him in class and I won’t be able to just call him, text him, talk to him. I broke out into tears and I texted him as well, just in case, like, everything’s fine.”
Sema’J said he still has the messages Koy sent him during that time.
“I’m here for you, I love you, you’re strong and you’re a warrior. You will get past this and I’m praying for you.”
Davis’ parents believe their son will get back out on the field. Davis believes he will get back on the field. He may not get back on the turf this season, but the door is not closed yet for the former quarterback. His story is still being written. Whether he sees game action or not, Davis’ story is one of true adversity, faith, fight and will. He’s taken leaps and bounds and will continue to do so.
“We’ll see,” Sema’J said. “That’s a waiting chapter. We’ll see.”