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Line-Drive Blinds Youth Pitcher, But He Still Sees Perspective

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PLYMOUTH, Minn. (WCCO) – Perspective can be hard to find when life takes unexpected turns.

Ryan Steen, 13, took a line-drive hit to the eye during a baseball game this summer, leavening him completely blind in one eye.

That hasn’t dampened his outlook, however.

“Anything can happen,” Ryan said. “So all bad things don’t just happen to bad people. They can happen to good people too.”

Ryan’s life-changing blow came when he was doing what he loved. He was pitching at a tournament on June 16, when he took a baseball to the eye.

“I threw my knuckleball, and then, I just blacked out, and woke up on the ground,” he said. “I knew something was wrong, because I put my hand up to my face, and it was all bloody, so I’m just like, ‘Oh crap.’”

Ryan was rushed to Hennepin County Medical Center for emergency surgery. His mother, a radiologist, didn’t realize the severity of the hit until she looked at the CT scan.

“So they showed it to me, and so then, then you could see that his actual eye ball was ruptured,” Debbie said. “And so then, I walked out and I’m like, ‘This is bad.'”

The line-drive tore the actual globe of Ryan’s eye, causing retinal detachment. In addition, doctors told the Steens there is also suspected damage to the optic nerve, resulting in 100 percent blindness in his left eye.

“When Dr. Bennet shines a light directly in his eye in a dark room, Ryan can see that,” said Mark Steen, Ryan’s father. “But that’s all that he can see.”

What Ryan doesn’t need full vision to see? His friends helping him to regain perspective.

A week after his injury, his buddies made t-shirts that read “3-OK.”

“’Cause my number is three, and I’m OK,” Ryan said.

To accompany the T-shirts, they also made wrist bands that read “Stay Strong Steener.”

For the No. 3 is not about what Ryan can’t do, instead, it’s celebrating the victories accomplished doing what he can.

While baseball is out for now, no other platform highlights his new-found outlook better than his latest sport — basketball.

“He went in with 45 seconds left, and they kept giving him the ball, and he was able to shoot three 3-pointers, and made them all,” Mark said.

The Steens taught their children that if you look close enough, sports will teach some of life’s toughest lessons. And while Ryan may only have half his vision, what no life circumstance can take away is his very full outlook.

“That’s a great lesson for Ryan, to take something that he can overcome, and make it a positive, and be better because of it,” Mark Steen said.

The biggest issue Ryan now faces going forward is protecting his good eye. When playing any sport, Ryan avoids direct contact and wears protective goggles.

For now, he’s decided to sit out from baseball…but he’s added golf to the list of sports he enjoys.

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