At the same time, the movie keeps you wondering, why them? In one chilling scene, Zupan's high school buddy, Christopher Igoe, revisits the place where he drunkenly swerved off the highway 10 years before, paralyzing Zupan.
"I didn't know he was back there [in the bed of the pickup truck]," Igoe says simply. He hasn't gotten over it.
We follow a former motocross star named Keith Cavill through rehab and his triumphant trip home, during which he glances around his revamped bedroom, notices the wheelchair-accessible shower, fights off tears and finally says, "The fact is, what was once normal will never be the same."
Later, he borrows Zupan's rugby chair at an informational clinic -- the competitive fire back in his eyes -- and asks nurses whether he can ram the chair into something. So it's no surprise when we eventually learn that Keith is saving up $3,000 for his own rugby chair.
See, that's what "Murderball" is about: hope, life, love, loss, competition, fate, redemption. When was the last time you saw a movie audience applaud during the closing credits? Last weekend, I did.
Zupan says it best: "I use everything I have to get through life. That's all we have to do -- use everything we have."
That's the ultimate message here. Zupan and his teammates never stop savoring life and the sport they love.
I will always believe that "Hoop Dreams" is the best sports documentary ever -- because of its quality, originality and overall significance -- but "Murderball" comes darned close.
Maybe Manny, Ricky and T.O. should see it.
Bill Simmons is a columnist for Page 2 and ESPN The Magazine. His Sports Guy's World site is updated every day Monday through Friday.