Just one day before the accident, Ivory had returned to Andover from a trip to China. Despite his exhaustion from the trip, Ivory went to work, and while he was driving home, Ivory fell asleep at the wheel and crashed. He was taken to a hospital in Lawrence, and emergency services later transferred Ivory to Tufts Medical Center, where he received surgery.
“I was in China. I was traveling there and I got back. It’s a long trip. I went for the first time last year, and then this year I felt like I was a superhuman. I went to work the next day and I didn’t rest enough. I was driving back home, and I woke up in the hospital. I fell asleep driving, and hit a tree out here on [Route] 28… I clearly have learned a lesson, the hard way… I made a mistake and tried to do too much too soon after a really long trip,” said Ivory.
Ivory suffered brain swelling and bleeding, and as a result, part of his skull was removed for nearly six weeks. He received surgery and now has titanium inside part of his skull. Additionally, Ivory suffered a broken ankle and injured shoulder.
According to Ivory, during his stay at the hospital, many friends and coworkers visited to show their concern and support. Ivory expressed gratitude for the supportive response of the Andover community.
“This community stepped up when I did get into the accident…People reached out to me on Facebook, messaged me, [and] talked about me being in their thoughts and prayers. When I was in the hospital, the first day, I think it was a group of six or seven people from this community showed up. I wasn’t aware, I was unconscious, but they were just there in the hospital just to be there for me, because my mom couldn’t get up there. My mom flew from Charlotte, N.C., where I grew up, as soon as she found out,” said Ivory.
Ivory continued, “During that transition I think three or four people from the office showed up. I think Elisa Joel [Director of Athletics and former Director of Enrollment Management], she just held my hand and just was there for me… Being able to have visitors meant the world to me. People coming and just spending time with me and just bringing food from my mom and talking to me that mattered so much. It helped my recovery.”
Kevin Graber, Senior Associate Director of Admission, expressed the worry that he had felt when he first heard the news of Ivory’s accident, and the helplessness that he felt upon first visiting Ivory only a few days after the accident.
“He had been brought to Tufts Medical Center. I was in Boston, so I just dropped what I was doing and my wife and I drove over to Tufts Medical Center and we were by his bedside that day when we first arrived. And it was an emotional time, when you see someone you’re so close to, and at that point there’s a lot of questions. What is the extent of his injuries? Is he gonna be okay? Is he gonna live? Basically, I saw my friend there in a coma and felt pretty helpless. There’s nothing I could do to help him,” said Graber.
Graber said that Ivory is one of his closest friends and that Ivory’s leave had a large impact on him emotionally. During Ivory’s medical leave, Graber explained that he missed him not only because of his work ethic and humility, but also because of his bright personality and positive energy.
“[It was] lonely. Really lonely. Not to say I don’t love working with all my other amazing colleagues, but he left a pretty significant hole in my heart. Him not being in the office, but just not in my life—it’s pretty tough. Compound that with the fact that concern about his health and well-being it doubles the effect. I think we’re lucky, not only to have him back, but to have him back in the condition he’s in.” said Graber.
Ivory returned to campus the same day as Andover Boys Basketball team tryouts began. Ivory will be coaching full time this Winter in addition to his work in admissions. According to Joel, Ivory is passionate about the sport and has managed to connect with many of the Varsity team players.
“T.I. loves basketball. He loves coaching it, he loves playing it, he loves watching it and we are thrilled he is here at the start of the season, because it’s allowing T.I. to do the thing he loves most. And I know he makes a big impact on the team. The guys are excited to have their coach with them this season as well. They’ve become [more of] a family than a team. [T.I.] really creates that atmosphere,” said Joel.
Joel continued, “I think it really speaks to his love of the boys on that team, it speaks to his love of the game, it also speaks to the love that he found surrounding him over a really tough number of months.”
According to Ray Shoemaker ’20, Andover Boys Basketball team member, Ivory has become a mentor and friend in addition to a coach. Shoemaker explained that Andover’s campus felt empty without Ivory.
“[Without Ivory, it’s been] just really gloomy, really sad. He’s a really uplifting character, he’s just really needed on campus. When things get tough, he’s always there for me and I feel like people really need that right now… He’s taught me to always keep my head up. I never forgot the game last year where we played Hotchkiss at Brooklyn Net Stadium, and we lost the game. He came into the room and said, ‘Keep your heads up,’ and that just always stuck with me,” said Shoemaker.
Marianne Bautista ’20 expressed her appreciation of Ivory, especially in how he works to be supportive and kind to the student body.
“He has always been a very positive force in the community. Even though he worked in Admissions he’s always been very supportive of students. I know whenever I pass him he always says hi to me and he remembers my name. He’s always just been super kind to everybody. He’s an adult on campus who’s very approachable, someone who students can talk to,” Bautista.
Despite the incident leaving behind lifelong scars, Ivory now sees the accident as an opportunity to grow as a person and member of the community.
“Taking care of yourself matters so much. One of the reasons why I work here is because I feel like I can help kids and develop relationships with these amazing kids, but in order to give, you have to take care of yourself. If you don’t take care of yourself it’s hard to think about helping other people. I have a reminder every day: the scar. I’m embracing the scar though. The scar is not gonna go away, it’s a part of my story,” said Ivory.