Shaq Murray-Lawrence has been waiting for this for nearly 13 months.
The 24-year-old product of Scarborough, Ont., was added to the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ practice roster on Thursday and worked out with the CFL team Thursday and Friday.
“IT’S TRULY A BLESSING TO COME TO A FIRST-CLASS ORGANIZATION WITH WORLD-CLASS FACILITIES.”
The 5-foot-8, 192-pound running back may not be activated before the end of the season, but he’s likely just happy to be back on a football field. He hasn’t played since being involved in a hit-and-run car accident on Sept. 10, 2017.
“Everything happened so fast,” Murray-Lawrence said after Friday’s closed practice. “Before I knew it, I was being released by B.C., and I didn’t know what was next for my career.
“It was a dark place for me, trying to get back to what I love. Having the game taken away from me by something that was outside of football was definitely hard for me.”
Murray-Lawrence played 39 regular-season games with the Lions after they selected him in the third round (23rd overall) of the 2015 CFL draft out of UNLV.
Two days after a game against the Montreal Alouettes on Sept. 8, 2017, Murray-Lawrence was driving to the Lions’ facility in Surrey, B.C., for team meetings. He estimated he was five minutes away from the building when another car crossed into his lane and a head-on collision ensued.
The driver of the other vehicle fled the scene on foot, while Murray-Lawrence was taken to hospital with a concussion and soft-tissue injuries. The Lions subsequently put him on the disabled list and later released him.
The Alouettes signed Murray-Lawrence as a free agent in February of this year and he went to their training camp. But a team doctor wouldn’t give Murray-Lawrence physical clearance to play, so Montreal cut him.
“Prior to (going to camp), I had been rehabbing and trying to get myself right eight times a week, putting a lot of money into my body just trying to get back,” he said. “To have a doctor say, ‘Hey, you can’t do this’ created a lot of ups and downs for me.”
Once again, Murray-Lawrence was without an opportunity to play — and that didn’t sit well with him.
“After Week 10, Week 11, Week 12, you’re watching your peers play while you’re at home and you’re like, ‘Man, what am I not doing right? Is this it for my career?’ ” Murray-Lawrence said.
“I started coaching high school football (in Scarborough), being involved with my community and trying to keep myself busy, but at the same time, there was a piece of my heart missing. That was playing football.
“I’ve been playing this game since I was six or seven years old. It’s all I know.”
This week, he heard from a friend that the Roughriders were interested in adding Murray-Lawrence. The team soon contacted him and arranged for him to fly to Regina, where he was on the field Thursday.
That ended more than a year of wondering.
“It’s truly a blessing to come to a first-class organization with world-class facilities,” said Murray-Lawrence, who joins Tre Mason, Marcus Thigpen, Cameron Marshall and Sherman Badie in the Roughriders’ stable of tailbacks. “It’s truly humbling.
“It’s just great to be back.”