Former Lincolnton High football standout and current Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive back C.J. Wilson severely injured one of his hands in a Fourth of July fireworks accident on Saturday.
Wilson lost two fingers in the accident, sources close to the family confirmed to the Lincoln Times-News. The Charlotte television station WBTV reported that Wilson’s father, Curtis Sr., told the station his son lost the index and middle fingers on one hand.
Wilson was in Lincolnton with family and close friends when the accident occurred. He had a second surgery on the hand Wednesday night, WBTV reported.
Wilson was holding a canister that contained fireworks, and the fireworks exploded inside the canister, his father told WBTV.
News of the accident, which was first reported by the Tampa Tribune, went viral Wednesday afternoon. Wilson, who was acquired by Tampa Bay last fall, was set to enter training camp next month.
The Buccaneers are aware of the situation, but were vague in a statement released on Wednesday.
“We are aware that C.J. was involved in an accident that occurred over the July 4th holiday. It is our understanding that the injury occurred to one of his hands and our primary concern at this moment is for his long-term health,” the statement said. “We have been in contact with C.J. and are continuing to monitor the situation.”
Wilson is the second reported NFL player to suffer an injury due to fireworks. New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul suffered an injury to one of his hands as a result of a Fourth of July fireworks accident, and had his right index finger amputated on Wednesday, ESPN reported.
Wilson graduated from Lincolnton in 2008, and led the Wolves to a state title in 2007. After graduating as Lincoln County’s all-time rushing leader, Wilson converted to cornerback at N.C. State.
He went undrafted in 2013 before signing a free agent deal with the Chicago Bears. He played sparingly in one-plus seasons with the Bears before being released last fall. He signed with Tampa Bay a week later, and played in its final two games in 2014.
Wilson sat down with the Lincoln Times-News last month and shared what it was like for an undrafted free agent trying to find a permanent spot on an NFL roster. While he acknowledged the road was long and hard, he felt he could make it.
“If you’re not a draft pick then you’re like a walk-on. You’ve got to start from the bottom, and that’s what I’m doing. But I’ve been doing that my whole life,” Wilson said. “I had to prove people wrong when I was (at Lincolnton). … The same thing happened in college. The only reason I got picked in college was because somebody didn’t come so they offered me late. I was, like, the eighth corner, but worked my way up and started the first game.
“That’s been my life story — you’ve got to grind to get to where you need to be, and right now I’m grinding, I’m scrapping, I’m scratching to get to the top.”