Back in Belleville, Illinois, several reconstructive knee and elbow surgeries soon followed. So did the birth of his daughter, Rachel. To regain strength and mobility, from his career-ending injuries, Derrick did what he knew how to do, lift weights. After a year-and-a-half he realized that the weights he was lifting in his Olympic-lifting rehab program would place him on the podium at Nationals. He decided to evolve his rehab program into a training program and return to competition. Self-coached, he won his first National Championship in 1987, in Livonia, Michigan, and his first Olympic Festival in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina.
Derrick participated in new Russian electrical stimulation research conducted by his orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Richard C. Lehman, as an important training tool to make the 1988 Olympic Team. Working full-time as a police officer for the City of Belleville, Illinois, he trained 2-3 times each day and miracously came back to make the 1988 Olympic Team, placing 9th in the clean and jerk and 11th overall. Derrick went on to win the 1989 National Championships and the “Best Lifter” award in Houston, Texas, the 1989 Olympic Festival in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and he represented the United States in the 1989 World Championships in Athens, Greece. Derrick won his second consecutive National title in 1990 in Farmington Hills, Michigan, and represented the United States at the Moomba International Championships in Melbourne, Australia, placing third.