Someone You Should Know: From Coma to Competition
He cites his mother, whose story might be worth another book. She grew up in Africa, in Eritrea. She moved to Buffalo after marrying an American sailor, Eric’s father. The marriage didn’t last, but she was now in the United States with two small children to raise.
www.13wham.com | March 23, 2019
Eric Laughton almost died nine years ago. How he fought back, and dedicated himself to motivating others, makes him … Someone You Should Know.
It’s early on a Monday. 4:30 am. The streets of Kenmore, just outside Buffalo, are quiet.
But inside the Fitness Factory, Eric Laughton is working out, enjoying what he calls “his time.”
The gym’s owner, Roy Espinosa, has known Laughton for years.
“That’s what draws me to anybody is a big heart, kindness, and someone willing to help,” Espinosa says. “And this is the guy right here.”
In 2010, Laughton suffered a perforated bowel, then complications, including a potentially fatal sepsis infection, and acute respiratory distress syndrome, which is also life-threatening. He ended up in a coma, on life support, for 13 days. His wife, Sabrina, was four months pregnant at the time.
“It was probably one of the first times I got knocked down to my knees,” Laughton recalls. “I got knocked down not just physically, but mentally.”
But Laughton got up again. And now he works to motivate others who find themselves knocked down by life.
Laughton knows about obstacles. He grew up in the projects in Buffalo. He admits to running with the wrong crowd, and to being chased, a time or two, by police.
But now he is the police. In fact, Major Eric Laughton is the commander of Troop E, based in Farmington.
He’s also married, a father of five boys, and a Colonel in the Air Force. He enlisted at 18, and continues to serve.
As if all that wasn’t enough, Laughton is also a competitive body builder.
“When this coma incident happened I was prepping for a bodybuilding competition,” Laughton says. “I thought I was training for a contest. I was really training to save my life — I just didn’t know it at the time.
Laughton wrote a book about his experience called “The Four M’s of Success: From Coma to Competition. ” It is filled with motivational messages, and gratitude for those who helped to motivate and mentor him. First on the list are family; he gives credit to his wife, sister, and dad.
And he cites his mother, whose story might be worth another book. She grew up in Africa, in Eritrea. She moved to Buffalo after marrying an American sailor, Eric’s father. The marriage didn’t last, but she was now in the United States with two small children to raise.
“She refused to take any aid. She put herself through beautician school,” Laughton says about his mom who died in 1999. She got her driver’s license and learned English and she said one day I’m going to make a better life for you and your sister and that’s exactly what she did.”
Hanging in Laughton’s office at Troop E headquarters is a famous Norman Rockwell work showing a police officer sitting at a lunch counter with young boy. Laughton’s copy is signed by the officer seen in the painting.
“He says remember what policing is all about. It’s helping people,” says Laughton, reading what the officer wrote.
And that’s what Laughton says he hopes to do as a police officer, a military leader, and someone with a comeback story. The idea is to help someone else write a comeback story of their own.
“Life is an equal opportunity knock down artist,” Laughton says. “It’s going to knock all of us down. I don’t care what your race is, what your gender is, what your orientation is. It’ll bring you to your knees. It’s a decision whether to get up and move forward. What I want you to know is there’s always a way forward.”