Ellen DeGeneres learned about Emeka’s story and wanted him on her show

Nov 09, 2018
12:40 A.M.

Emeka Nnaka was paralyzed from the chest down when he was only 21 years old. Instead of wallowing in sorrow, he turned things around and decided to help others. When Ellen DeGeneres learned about him, she brought him on "The Ellen Show."


Nnaka was a football player and was injured in 2009 after he went in for a tackle as he was playing defense for the semi-professional team, Oklahoma Thunder.

He said that he had done the same type of tackle a hundred times in the past, but during that time, he heard his body crack.

As he watched the other player get up, he realized how he couldn’t. He laid there still and knew that something was wrong with him.

Source: YouTube/ The Ellen Show

Source: YouTube/ The Ellen Show

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According to Nnaka, he broke his neck and had to undergo a nine-hour surgery. Afterward, he spent months in rehab.

When he knew that he was permanently paralyzed from the chest down and there was nothing that the doctors could do about it, Nnaka felt like he lost his purpose.

Source: YouTube/ The Ellen Show

Source: YouTube/ The Ellen Show

But instead of drowning in self-pity, he realized how he could still be useful in his community. He decided to do charity work.

For the past nine years, Nnaka had been helping in his community by engaging in outreach programs and raising money for the Tulsa United Way, which is aimed to rehabilitate schools.


Source: YouTube/ The Ellen Show

Source: YouTube/ The Ellen Show

In addition, he serves on the Board of Trustees for Tulsa Transit, and he sometimes gives motivational speeches to share his story and inspire people.

As for DeGeneres, she learned about Nnaka after receiving more than 50 people sending her letters and talking about him, who has been famed as the “Amazing Emeka.”

Nnaka was overwhelmed when he found out that he was invited on the show. She was grinning from ear to ear.

Despite his happy disposition, DeGeneres learned at some point during the interview that Nnaka had been going through waves of bad luck as of late.

Source: YouTube/ The Ellen Show

Source: YouTube/ The Ellen Show

His father, who is his primary caregiver, broke his foot, his van – a handicap accessible one – was totaled, and his apartment also caught fire.

When he told DeGeneres, she noticed that he was still smiling despite everything. She was in awe of how good of a person he was.

Eventually, she surprised him by giving him a check worth $100,000 sponsored by her “One Million Acts of Good” segment, which is in partnership with Cheerio’s.

Nnaka was speechless, and everyone from the crowd cheered. He was so happy that he asked DeGeneres for a hug, which she happily gave him.


DeGeneres has been known to help lots of people. Aside from Nnaka, another one she helped was an alum of “Top Chef” Season 15.

29-year-old chef Fatima Ali was given only a year to live after being diagnosed with terminal cancer.

The talk show host invited her on the show and offered to help her in the most generous way.

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