Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Monday 25 October |
Saint of the Day: Sts Gavin, Protus, and Januarius
Aleteia logo
home iconInspiring Stories
line break icon

Former soccer player’s wife stayed by him for 39 years while he was in a vegetative state



Jean-Pierre Adams.

Louis du Bosnet - published on 10/03/21

Bernadette Adams has given the world an example of dedication and love in her continuous care for her husband.

On Monday, September 6, Jean-Pierre Adams died at the age of 73. He was a former French professional footballer (soccer player) for Nîmes, Nice, and Paris Saint-Germain. But what makes his story stand out isn’t just his success on the pitch in his youth. He spent 39 years in a persistent vegetative state following an anesthesia accident during an operation on one of his knees in 1981.

Throughout those nearly four decades, he had the unwavering support of his wife, Bernadette, who remained continuously at his bedside. They were married for 52 years when he died.

Bernadette has given the world an example of dedication and a lesson of love. Her daily life revolved around that of her husband, who was breathing on his own, alternating between sleep and wakefulness. When awake, he had his eyes wide open but was unable to communicate with anyone.

In the confines of a room totally dedicated to the former soccer player, she lived at his bedside. In order to lighten his daily life, knowing that people who are unable to communicate with the outside world may still be aware of their surroundings, she played on repeat a playlist of songs by his favorite singers, among whom were Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, and Chuck Berry. 

Opposed to euthanasia

This was a grueling battle she fought alone, day by day, and was emblematic of the societal debate on the end of life.

“I was never asked the question of euthanasia for Jean-Pierre, because he was only in a coma for a few weeks, but I would have said ‘no’ for sure. One tells oneself that as long as there is life, there is hope,” she said in Le Point in 2019.

Although she lived in the hope of seeing her husband wake up one day, Bernadette Adams feared above all that she would die before the “Rock” (a nickname given to Jean-Pierre Adams for his ability to stop offense players of the opposite team dead in their tracks), worrying about who would have been able to continue her work of charity and dedication at his side.

She also recalled with impressive memory her husband’s last words to her before his ill-fated operation.

“Everything is fine, I’m in great shape. I’m going to be operated on at 11 a.m. Think of me anyway, but come and get me in eight days, and don’t forget a pair of crutches,” he reassured her. These words take on a particular resonance today.

The team from Nice he used to play for paid tribute to him on September 19 before playing against AS Monaco at the Allianz Riviera.

Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
Marinella Bandini
Exclusive: Carlo Acutis as seen by his mother
Philip Kosloski
Padre Pio replied to John Paul II’s letter with a miracle
Philip Kosloski
Meet Sandra Sabattini, a newly beatified 22-year-old
Theresa Civantos Barber
St. John Paul II’s perfect advice for lasting love in marriage
Cerith Gardiner
A collection of Pope John Paul II’s quotes on some of life’s most...
John Burger
Once considered for top post in Anglican Church, former bishop be...
Philip Kosloski
How kindness begins in your heart
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.