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Grant Allen Saale, 24, passed away during the night of September 10 – 11, 2019, almost 5 years to the day after sustaining the first of several concussions, which occurred while he was competing and practicing as a Division 1 diver at North Carolina State University. Grant graduated from Dublin Jerome High School in 2013, and still holds school records in 1- and 3-meter diving.
Grant’s athletic career began at a very young age. He competed in gymnastics and diving at the State, Regional, and National levels under the direction of many coaches who were so very important to him and his development as a disciplined and ambitious athlete. Among them are Mike Serra at Hocking Valley Gymnastics, DeRon McIntyre at Integrity Gymnastics and Justin Sochor at The Ohio State Dive Club. In addition to gymnastics and diving, he dabbled in soccer, tennis and badminton — anything but the dreaded cardio!
Grant had a strong entrepreneurial spirit, which he sharpened through his participation in Dublin Business Academy and Young Professionals Academy while at Jerome High School. He completed a successful internship with the Columbus Blue Jackets as part of YPA. Grant had several business ventures and ideas and was always thinking creatively about what could be next.
Unfortunately, the brain injuries that Grant suffered had many lasting impacts on his life. Doctors prescribed a variety of drugs and therapies, but his mind was never the same. He lost the world he knew as an athlete and a team member and struggled to find a new place for himself. He became isolated and depressed. Drug therapy evolved into abuse of legal and illegal drugs as Grant sought to ease the physical, mental and emotional pain that he was experiencing. There were many periods of hope and joy, but post-injury Grant did not have the mental fortitude to conquer problems the way that the pre-injury Grant would have been able to.
We can’t be sure of what happened the night he slipped peacefully into another realm, but it was unintentional and no one else was harmed — except for the profound heartbreak his family is feeling and will continue to feel every day of our lives.
Grant is loved and dearly missed by his mother, his rock, Laura Saale; his sister and biggest fan, Taylor Saale; as well as many other friends and relatives, including his father Dan Saale. Grant’s happy childhood was a light in the lives of his aunt and uncle Helen and Mark Ackery, godmother Margot Sheehan and two honorary aunts, Nichole Neal and Angela Macropoulos. Grant’s best friend Hunter Atha shared his passion for diving, as well as a love for the landscape of Arizona.
From early on, Grant had an uninhibited laugh, and knew how to draw a laugh out of others. He was funny, kind, friendly, and loved his circle of family and friends freely. Grant’s smile was big, warm, and generous. He made goofy faces with his big eyes. He loved rap music, wore shorts in the dead of winter and ate ridiculous amounts of parmesan cheese. He was crazy about his dogs, including his beagle, Toby, who misses him very much.
It’s a comfort to his loved ones that Grant’s last day was a really good one: running errands with his mom, watching a movie, sharing a meal together and getting a final hug.
A celebration of Grant’s unique and memorable life will be held in January.
For more information on concussions, please visit: https://www.cdc.gov/traumaticbraininjury
For more information on opiate abuse, please visit: https://dontliveindenial.org