Thursday, March 6, 2014

Eric LeGrand's new ride is a customized, Rutgers-themed minivan (PHOTOS)

Everyone knows Eric LeGrand is a busy guy — whether he's traveling to various appearances or commuting to rehabilitation, the former football star is constantly on the road.

But LeGrand, the former Rutgers defensive tackle who was paralyzed from the neck down making a tackle in a 2010 game, needs a wheelchair accessible minivan to get around — and wanted one with style.

That's where Will Castro, the owner of Unique New Jersey, a company that has appeared on Speed TV and has customized vehicles for an extensive list of athletes and entertainers, including LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and rapper 50 Cent, comes in.

LeGrand learned of Castro last year and began following him on social media. After buying a Chrysler Town & Country minivan equipped with a wheelchair lift and ramp in October, LeGrand reached out to Castro for a little upgrade, writes

He described what he wanted and Castro and his team took it from there. The result is a matte black exterior with custom rims featuring LeGrand's No. 52 in the center. Castro gutted the interior to increase space for LeGrand's wheelchair and added a state-of-the-art entertainment system, including LED "Rutgers Red" lights and the logo of LeGrand's foundation on the headrests.

"He needs to do appearances, he has to go to therapy, so we wanted to make sure that it was very comfortable for him," Castro said. "I threw a little touch in there with his foundation logo because he does a lot of events and I tied in all the Rutgers colors. We enjoyed working with Eric on the project and we're looking forward to doing some more with the vehicle."

LeGrand has always been a car enthusiast but he had never customized one before.

"I got my first car the year I got hurt," LeGrand said. "I had one I got one day and it got totaled within two hours of getting it. Then I waited two months and I got one in April. I got it in April but I got hurt in October, so I drove it for that amount of time. My mom still actually drives my Nissan Altima."

And LeGrand enjoys the reaction the tricked-out "soccer mom" van gets on the road.

"It's funny because very rarely do you see people in a hooked-up minivan," LeGrand said. "The best is when we stop at a stoplight and people are looking at you like, 'What?!' That's the funniest. But I definitely enjoy it. They did a great job with it. I always wanted my own ride hooked up and now I have this one."

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