Paralyzed Rutgers player to appear on SI cover

PARSIPPANY, N.J. - December 21, 2011

For the first time in the magazine's 57-year history, fans made the choice.

LeGrand garnered the most votes from fans in 178 countries and led more than 6,000 users to post comments on Facebook. The defensive lineman beat out soccer star Lionel Messi, surfer Kelly Slater and Yankees captain Derek Jeter.

Even New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie tweeted his support for LeGrand.

LeGrand has been undergoing rehabilitation since he was paralyzed from the neck down making a tackle in a game against Army in 2010.

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