Leafs' Robertson reflects on his 9/11 birth: 'I was fighting for my life too'

Mark Blinch / National Hockey League / Getty

On the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Toronto Maple Leafs rookie Nick Robertson reflected on his own battle he grappled with that day in a California hospital.

On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, Robertson was born 10-to-12 weeks premature and without fully developed lungs. Doctors gave him three unsuccessful shots to try and get oxygen to his brain. According to the Robertson family, the fourth shot could have either saved him or killed him.

"With the tragedy that was happening then, people were fighting for their lives, but I was fighting for my life too, ironically," Robertson said, according to the Toronto Star's Kevin McGran. "But the circumstances were different."

At the same time, his mother, Mercedes, was also fighting for her life and needed blood. Robertson's father, Hugh, got into the line to donate and was confused as to why the queue was so long. Fearing more attacks across the nation, Californians lined up en masse to donate their blood to help potential victims. Hugh found out about the attacks after asking those waiting.

"They told him about the plane hitting the towers. And then one by one, they let my dad go in front of them to donate blood," Robertson said.

Fortunately, Robertson and his mother are now healthy. As the young forward gets older, he tends to look at the bigger picture on his birthday.

"My birthday doesn't seem like a birthday," he said. "It's more a memorial in recognition of the tragedy that happened that day."

Robertson's parents haven't seen him play a game in person since February 2020, but he said they will both be in attendance at the NHL rookie tournament in Michigan later this month.

Leafs' Robertson reflects on his 9/11 birth: 'I was fighting for my life too'
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