"The meaning of his name, Wali, is 'most joyful,'" his mother Piola Wright said.
And that is how she describes her son, the Contra Costa College football player in critical condition at John Muir hospital.
A video of Saturday's game shows Wali Wright playing free safety when he was severely injured during the Contra Costa College Comets' season opener against Los Medanos College. Wright broke two bones in his neck.
"He went to make the tackle and when he went in, he moved his head to one side to make contact with his shoulder and the running back's helmet, I guess, caught him in the neck when he turned to the side," head coach Dave Johnson said.
Wright had surgery Monday to insert two pins in his neck. So far, the 25-year-old cannot move his arms or legs. Doctors have told his family it may take two more weeks to determine the extent of his paralysis.
Tuesday, the Comets returned to practice with their fallen teammate in their thoughts.
"I hope for him that it's just a process of healing, take it one day at a time, cause there's a lot of people praying for him," Johnson said.
His mother said, as a young boy, Wright always loved football and talked often about his wish to one day play in the NFL.
"That was his big dream," Piola Wright said. "He said, 'Mom, you know that mansion you wanted? I'm going to the NFL and I'm going to buy you that mansion.'"
Now, Piola Wright says her dream for her son is that one day he can walk again.
"I'm just praying," she said.
Trust fund set up for injured CCC football player
The Contra Costa College Foundation has set up a trust fund to help Wali Wright's family with expenses and travel from Southern California to be with Wali.
Donations can be made to:
The Piola Wright Medical Fund
c/o: CCC Foundation
P.O. Box 6305
Richmond, CA 94806