Brisbane Broncos forward Alex Glenn was told as a 15-year-old that if he continued to play contact sport he risked never being able to walk again.
Glenn's spine was so badly aligned that a chiropractor had no choice but to give him the warning, forcing the up-and-coming star to take three years off rugby league.
Touch football and surfing became his physical activity, with the New Zealand international keeping himself at peak physical fitness in the hope he would one day be able to play rugby league again.
That day came when Glenn entered adulthood and it didn't take the Broncos long to scout him, with the club signing the Burleigh Bears centre in his first season in the Intrust Super Cup.
His NRL debut then came in 2009 – a milestone in itself.
Fast forward eight years and Glenn is now preparing for his 200th NRL match as a one-club player, an unbelievable feat considering the setbacks he has suffered.
A typically laidback Glenn spoke openly about his road to 200 games, saying how seriously he took the spinal injury that almost ended his sporting career.
"I had three years off during the end of school. I had back problems as a teenager," Glenn said.
"I'm not sure if it was a growth spurt but my spine wasn't aligned right. I was getting really sharp pains when I was 15.
"I went and saw a chiropractor and they told me I had to give up contact football for a number of years.
"It was hard as a young kid. I had played ever since I was five years old and then I had to give up the sport I loved. It was a tough decision.
"Mum told me it was in my best interest to give it up, heal and then pursue a career later on. It was a tough pill to swallow.
"I played a lot of touch football and surfed to stay active,"
Surfing may have saved Glenn's career, with the water sport helping to correct the alignment of his spine.
"I had a lot of treatment with the chiropractor and the surfing helped my posture," he said.
"If I didn't have those couple of years off I wouldn't be where I am now in the NRL.
"Who knows what could have happened (if I didn't have a break). I could have got in a bad position and never have been able to walk again.
"I may not have been able to play any sport again. When it comes to my spine I take it pretty seriously."
Now one of Brisbane's most reliable forwards, an off-contract Glenn will look to finalise his future in the coming weeks.
The 28-year-old has no plans to leave the club and is focused on doing his best every time he puts on a Broncos jersey.
That includes this week when he runs out for game 200 in front of a number of his friends and family that have travelled to see him reach the milestone.
The man of the moment said he is just hoping nerves don't intervene like they did during his NRL debut.
"I knew I was going on at the 20 minute mark (of my debut) so every five minutes I was going to the toilet to have a spew," he said.
"It was in front of 50,000 fans and against the Cowboys. I couldn't control the butterflies.
"I don't want to think about this milestone too much otherwise it will make me nervous."