Adam Taliaferro

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Adam J. Taliaferro
Member of the New Jersey General Assembly
from the 3rd district
Assumed office
January 29, 2015
Serving with John J. Burzichelli
Preceded by Celeste Riley
Personal details
Born (1982-01-01) January 1, 1982 (age 36)
Moon Township, Pennsylvania
Political party Democratic
Residence Woolwich Township, New Jersey
Website Legislative web page

Adam J. Taliaferro (born January 1, 1982) is an American politician in the state of New Jersey and a former American football player whose recovery from a paralyzing spinal cord injury sustained while playing cornerback for the Penn State Nittany Lions gained national media attention.

Growing up in Voorhees Township, New Jersey,[1] he was a standout running back and cornerback for the Eastern High School Vikings. In two years of varsity football at Eastern High School, he averaged 9.4 yards per carry, racking up 62 touchdowns, and seven interceptions. Taliaferro was also a four-year varsity starter in basketball, and set his school's record in the high jump at 6 feet 6 inches (1.98 m).

Taliaferro currently serves in the New Jersey General Assembly from the Third Legislative District which covers portions of South Jersey. A Democrat, he was appointed to the seat in January 2015 after having served on the Gloucester County Board of Chosen Freeholders for three years. Taliaferro was elected to his first full two-year term in the Assembly in November 2015.[2]

Penn State career[edit]

In 2000, Taliaferro joined the Penn State Nittany Lions football team as one of the top-rated[citation needed] freshmen of their 2000 recruiting class. Taliaferro earned playing time as a true freshman for Joe Paterno's Nittany Lions, despite Paterno's well-documented tendency to redshirt freshman players.

On September 23, 2000, while playing in only the fifth game of his college career, Taliaferro sustained a career-ending spinal cord injury while tackling tailback Jerry Westbrooks during Penn State's game versus Ohio State. Taliaferro's helmet had hit Westbrooks' knee during the tackle, bursting the fifth cervical vertebra in his neck and bruising his spinal cord.[3] Unable to control his fall, the crown of his helmet hit the turf and his body rolled awkwardly over his neck. Taliaferro was paralyzed on the hit, which left him with no movement from the neck down.


Taliaferro had surgery at the Ohio State Medical Center to fuse his C-5 vertebrate. After successful surgery, Taliaferro was airlifted back to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to begin his recovery. Although surgery was successful, Taliaferro was only given a 3% chance of ever walking again.[3]

He began his well-publicized rehab at Magee Rehabilitation Hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After eight months of rehab, Taliaferro had learned to walk again.

Return to Penn State[edit]

Taliaferro returned to Penn State less than a year after his injury. He led the Penn State Nittany Lions football team onto Beaver Stadium's field for the first game of the 2001 season against the Miami Hurricanes in front of a record crowd of 109,313. Taliaferro skipped, then jogged onto the field in front of an emotional Penn State crowd.

He remained part of the football team as a student-assistant coach under Joe Paterno. Taliaferro earned a Bachelor of Science in Labor and Industrial Relations from Penn State in 2005.

Miracle in the Making & The Adam Taliaferro Foundation[edit]

In 2001, a book was written by Sam Carchidi and Scott Brown to chronicle Taliaferro's life and recovery, entitled Miracle in the Making.

Taliaferro created his own foundation to help support others with spinal cord injuries. The foundation was created in 2001, and continues to grow each year. The foundation has been said to raise over $80,000 per year for spinal cord injuries.

In 2008, he was named the recipient of the Philadelphia Sports Writers Association "Humanitarian Award". In the spring of 2012, he was elected to the Penn State Board of Trustees.[4] Following his appointment to the New Jersey General Assembly, he announced he would not seek a second term on the Board.[5]

Political career[edit]

On November 8, 2011, he was elected to serve on the Gloucester County Board of Chosen Freeholders.[6] A resident of Woolwich Township, he assumed office on January 6, 2012.[7] He subsequently won reelection to the Freeholder board in 2014 and served until his appointment to the General Assembly.[8]

Following the resignation of Assemblywoman Celeste Riley in 2015 from the General Assembly, Taliaferro was chosen by the county Democratic committees represented by the 3rd district to fill the vacant seat. He was sworn in on January 29, 2015.[5]

Personal life[edit]

Taliaferro enrolled at Rutgers School of Law–Camden in Camden, New Jersey. He earned his J.D. in May 2008 and worked as a lawyer at Duane Morris in the firm's Cherry Hill office for five years.[3][9] In September 2012, he joined pharmaceutical company Bristol-Myers Squibb as a healthcare advocate, focusing on mental health, oncology, and HIV products.[10] Taliaferro also runs his own foundation which helps student athletes with head or spinal injuries[3] and is a motivational speaker, doing corporate appearances and speaking at schools.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Kindred, David. "One amazing freshman", The Sporting News, August 27, 2001. Accessed March 17, 2011. "For three months, from October 6 past his 19th birthday on New Year's Day to January 5, Taliaferro underwent rehabilitation therapy at the Magee Rehabilitation Center in Philadelphia, 15 miles from his home in Voorhees, N.J."
  2. ^ NJ Decides 2015 Election Results, NJTV News, November 3, 2015. Accessed November 7, 2015.
  3. ^ a b c d Weber, Jim (19 July 2010). "Finding Adam Taliaferro: 10 years later, devastating injury spawns professional passion". Retrieved 21 July 2010. 
  4. ^ "Penn State University - Board of Trustees - Adam J. Taliaferro". July 2012. Archived from the original on March 13, 2015. Retrieved February 28, 2015. 
  5. ^ a b Caffrey, Michelle (January 29, 2015). "Adam Taliaferro sworn in to Assembly seat, will not seek re-election to Penn State Board of Trustees". South Jersey Times. Retrieved February 28, 2015. 
  6. ^ Via Associated Press. "Former Penn State footballer Adam Taliaferro gains seat as Gloucester County freeholder", The Trentonian, November 9, 2011. Accessed January 8, 2012. "Former Penn State football player Adam Taliaferro was elected to the Gloucester County Board of Freeholders last night. Taliaferro made an inspirational recovery from a paralyzing game injury 11 years ago and has now successfully been elected in New Jersey for the first time. Taliaferro ran as a Democrat."
  7. ^ Romalino, Carly Q. "Freeholder-elect Taliaferro admits to pre-swearing-in jitters", Gloucester County Times, January 3, 2012. Accessed January 8, 2012. "“There are some nerves, but I am confident,” said Taliaferro, of Woolwich Township. “When I first sit down, for me, it’s finally time to do work. To have the opportunity to get started is really going to be exciting to me.”"
  8. ^ Caffrey, Michelle (February 13, 2015). "Democrats tap Woodbury man to be newest freeholder for Gloucester County". South Jersey Times. Retrieved February 28, 2015. 
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-10-01. Retrieved 2011-05-16. 
  10. ^

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