An entertainment industry icon, Daryl Mitchell, is a man of unbreakable spirit. He has pushed his way through to make the best out of an impossibly difficult situation—he suffered a horrible motorcycle accident back in 2001 that resulted in him being a wheelchair user.

Despite this, he has been striving for what matters to him the most—a great acting career.


#ncisnola I put my boys to work family bu$ine$$

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Daryl Crashed a Kawasaki Ninja 900 in an Accident in 2001

Before dawn in the early-morning hours of November 10, 2001, Mitchell decided to take his nephew's Kawasaki Ninja 900 out for a spin. Little did he know that he would not come back the same.

In a 2002 interview with People, the Wyandanch native relived the terrifying accident. "I rode off, and I never came back," the iron-willed actor recalled.

Mitchell was on Warshaw Island on vacation with his family when the accident happened. He was by no means a rookie rider as he had a Kawasaki Ninja 1100 of his own back home. 

A Spinal Cord Injury left Daryl Mitchell Paralyzed for Life

Further along in the interview, Mitchell recalled the memory he had before the crash. He could remember getting out of his brother's Ford Explorer at a nightclub in Beaufort and getting his new gray boots dirty in the sand.

That was when he noticed his nephew Everette's bike. Then, Everette had offered his motorcycle the day before to him, who had politely declined because he was drinking that night. However, on the night in question, Daryl was completely sober. So, he decided to give it a try.

The next thing in Mitchell's memory was waking up in the hospital in Charleston. He had skidded off a gravel-strewn road on Warshaw Island near Beaufort, S.C., and suffered a fractured wrist, punctured lungs, bruised kidneys, and, worst of all, damage to his spinal cord that left him paralyzed from the chest down.

Daryl Mitchell Took full Responsibility for the Accident

Even after the crash left him crippled for life, Mitchell took full responsibility for the accident. He also admitted that he rode off without any protective equipment on the road he had never driven before.

It was totally my fault. I took off in the dark without a helmet on a road I didn’t know.

He had been taken to Beaufort Memorial Hospital, and the doctors there were not sure if he would survive the airlift to the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston. Little did they know that Mitchell was a fighter—always had been.

The actor plowed through recovery one little step at a time. It didn't matter how many bones in his body the accident broke; it was nowhere near enough to break his spirit.

I’m going to keep doing what I do, which is striving for a great career.

After he recovered from the wounds, it was certain that he had suffered permanent damage to his spine. As a result, he was paralyzed from the chest down. He had to work through therapy just to put on his sneakers.

Less than a year after the crash, he trained himself to get dressed, drive, shoot pool, and even take a few rounds off at the pistol range.

But The Oscars Venue did not have Enough Wheelchair Seatings

Although many names from the industry called and came to visit, to Daryl, one name stood out—Denzel Washington.

"He [Denzel] flew up from Miami to take me to the Mike Tyson-Lennox Lewis fight in his plane," the Inside Man star revealed.

Denzel even invited Daryl to come to the Oscars that year, but unfortunately, the venue did not have enough wheelchair seatings, and Daryl took a promise that day.

That’s gonna change. Everyone’s going to know about wheelchairs now that I’m in one. I promise you that.

Daryl did not Let the Wheelchair Slow Him Down

The accident occurred eighteen years ago, and sure enough, the Hollywood veteran lived up to his words.

Since his accident, he has starred in over a dozen TV shows, including Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Ed, Fear Of The Walking Dead, and NCIS: New Orleans. 

For obvious reasons, Daryl Michell—or as the industry affectionately calls him Daryl "Chill"— has been done a great job portraying his characters on wheelchairs. He has garnered a lot of love from everyone in the industry, fans, and colleagues alike for his tenacity. 

"When people see me, they say, 'Man, you're the only black actor on TV in a wheelchair.' But I'm not proud of that. That's unreal, to be the only," stated Mitchell during the Television Academy Foundation and Easterseals Southern California's panel.