Eric LeGrand is ready to be an inspiration for Shawn Bradley ... the former Rutgers football player tells TMZ Sports he'd love to talk with the NBA legend and let him know life is NOT over despite his new condition.
LeGrand -- who overcame a tragic football injury in 2010 to become one of the most inspiring men on the planet -- says he wants to make it clear to Bradley that the guy can still make a difference even after he was paralyzed in a January bicycle accident.
"People think when spinal cord injuries happen, that life is just over," LeGrand says.
"And, in the beginning, when you go through an adjustment period, you're going to have those moments and it's understandable."
But, Eric says he's willing to help the 48-year-old get through that time ... and learn he can still be as successful at life as he was before the injury.
"As time starts to go on, you start to realize, 'OK, this is my new life,'" LeGrand says, "'this is my adjustments to it, I can still make a difference.' And, that's why I want to offer whatever I can offer."
During this initial period of shock over the injury, though, LeGrand says he has all the empathy in the world for the former Dallas Mavericks superstar.
"My thoughts and prayers definitely go to him and his family and I truly do mean that," LeGrand says. "Because when you suffer something like this, it's life-altering and it flips and turns your life upside down."
The Mavericks say Bradley is "in good spirits" after suffering the injury on Jan. 20 ... though the team added docs have told him his road to recovery "will be both long and arduous."