=FOXBORO, Mass. — A year ago Friday, Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower endured one of the scariest moments of his life.
Hightower was in Tuscaloosa, Ala. when the area was ravaged by a catastrophic tornado. It touched down about 75 yards away from him, and he had to clutch a friend and take shelter under a sink to stay safe.
"Me and a couple of my friends went down to a clubhouse," Hightower recalled Friday, when he visited Gillette Stadium for the first time. "We were maybe 75 yards away from the tornado. Once it came, there wasn't too much we could do. We went to the clubhouse, and we were in the bathroom. One of my best friends, Michael Williford, started sliding away toward the door. I kind of grabbed him, and we ducked up under the sink. Five or 10 minutes later, it was over, and we came out and checked how everything was gone."
The tornado was disastrous, killing dozens, injuring more and destroying property throughout the area. After making it out alive, Hightower said he took a new lease on life.
"I couldn't even explain to you how scary it was," said Hightower, who was taken with the 25th pick in Thursday's first round. "You just never know when's your last breath. That definitely put me in perspective and made me change as far as my thinking perspective. I'm definitely blessed to be here today."