PORTAGE PARK, Ill. – A Chicago Public Schools honor student shot in the head last year made a remarkable comeback Tuesday night.
This week, Damari Hendrix is back on the basketball court for the first time since a random shooting nearly ended his life.
It’s a story that’s inspiring his fellow students and his teachers, too.
Hendrix went through surgery three times and spent four days in a medically-induced coma. He had to learn to walk and talk again. Now he’s running, and his coach says he’s also redefining what’s possible.
“Watching them practice, it’s impossible to believe that not long ago, one of these young men lay dying from a gunshot wound to the head,” Brian Rose, Hendrix’s coach, said.
In a park near his home last Labor Day weekend, Hendrix came close to leaving this world.
“We just heard ‘shooter,’ and everybody got up running and stuff and I didn’t know I was shot until later on, I was running, my body started shutting down and stuff. I couldn’t see, walk, talk, run no more,” he said.
“It’s one of those things where your heart drops,” his coach said.
Rose couldn’t believe what was happening then—or now.
For the first time in 14 months, Hendrix came back on the court with his teammates at Foreman High School.
Hendrix breaks out into a huge smile when he talks about his basketball team.
Last year, when he couldn’t play, Hendrix still came out to show his support.
“He was the biggest cheerleader, which is amazing. And then now; you guys just saw him. He doesn’t look like someone who had a traumatic brain injury 14 months ago,” his coach said.
Hendrix is still working on some fine motor skills but you wouldn’t notice by watching him practice. He even dunks a couple times.
“I get a second chance at life. I thought I wasn’t going to make it,” he said.
Hendrix is an athlete and an academic but the tattoo on his arm head—of the Chicago Bulls logo–might give you some idea of where the teen’s head is at right now.
“Up. I only want to go up, get better and better every day.”