On July 4th, 2015, Tampa Bay Bucs defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul was lighting fireworks in his hometown of Deerfield Beach, Florida, when something went wrong. A particularly pesky firework that wouldn't light suddenly did, but rather than rocketing into the night sky it immediately exploded.
Suddenly, success—and then an eruption, a bang and a blinding green-and-white light that, witnesses say, swallowed Pierre-Paul’s 6' 5", 278-pound frame. “I remember a big flash, and I heard boom!” says Farraw Germain, the mother of Pierre-Paul’s then eight-month-old son, Josiah. “There was a lot of smoke.” Pierre-Paul sensed trouble right away. “As soon as I saw the green light, I jumped,” he says. “I knew something dangerous was about to happen.”
Pierre-Paul dropped to the grass. But when he arose he smelled nothing, felt nothing. Then he heard Germain shriek in terror, “Your hand!”
JPP, who lost all or part of three fingers, shared a picture Tuesday of what his hand looked like in the aftermath of the accident.
In the caption to the photo, he warned of the dangers of fireworks.
"One of the greatest American traditions in celebrating 4th of July is with fireworks," he wrote. "Unfortunately, tomorrow someone will be injured playing with fireworks. We are celebrating the birthday of our great nation. I'm glad to still be alive to show you the outcome of what happened to me. Please don't feel sorry for me, trust me your boy fine even with missing fingers lol. Be safe out there otherwise, this can be you."
The 29-year-old has fully recovered from his injuries and last season, he played 16 games for the first time since the injury. Here's what his hands look like now.
Despite the trauma of the accident, JPP has credited it, and his determination to recover for it, with boosting his confidence
"What I learned was that I'm unstoppable," he said earlier this year. "In order for me to not play this sport, you've got to take both of my legs, you know what I'm saying? Even then, I'd still try to fight my way through."