Everett's walking does the talking

February 1, 2008 8:24:44 PM PST
A look inside the mind -- and body -- of Buffalo Bills tight end Kevin Everett. A devastating hit on the field in September paralyzed the Houstonian, and that's where this story begins.What's happened since then has been nothing short of a miracle. Eyewitness News talked to Everett Friday morning, in New York City.

Kevin Everett flexes his fingers.

Easy for you and me, but for him, nothing short of amazing.

"It's a miracle, a miracle from God," said his mother, Patricia Dugas.

The little things we take for granted, Kevin thanks God for.

"I'm just blessed," he said.

In less than five months, he went from limp, lying on the football field in Buffalo, to walking again. And walking well enough that he's not afraid to show people across the country.

Kevin walked proudly with his fiancee to the set of "Good Morning America" on Friday morning. And then he sat down with Eyewitness News for his first Houston television interview.

"It's like, I hit a wall and everything went numb," he said.

He recalls the tackle that changed his life and almost certainly ended his NFL career. It was the Bills' season opener. He was supposed to be this season's breakout star.

"They were working me into the offense, looking at me as a go-to guy, and they were depending on me to do some good things for the Buffalo Bills," Everett said.

Instead, one hit left him paralyzed from the neck down.

"The longer he stayed down, the more I felt it was something really serious," Dugas said.

Initially, doctors feared Kevin would never walk again, or worse. In Buffalo, right after the injury, they used a relatively new hypothermia treatment to cool his body temperature. He went through surgery. Two weeks later, he headed home to Houston.

"He wouldn't even sit up for long periods of time. He couldn't even stand, he couldn't even walk," said Dr. Teodoro Castillo of Memorial Hermann/TIRR.

Within a month, Kevin was walking again with the help of a walker. Soon, he was all by himself.

Five-day-a-week sessions at Memorial Hermann have now been cut to three days a week. He can walk briskly, and even catch a football.

When asked if he would ever play football again, Everett responded, "Uh, I'm not even thinking about that right now, to be quite honest. I'm just focusing on my health and my family."

He's also focusing on promoting a book about his experience. He hopes that it will inspire spinal cord patients.

On Super Bowl weekend, who's his favorite?

"I'm gonna go for the Giants," he said, because they're the underdogs. He knows about overcoming obstacles.

"To see Kevin now ... walking, going out to the community without any assistance, taking care of himself, it's really truly remarkable," Dr. Castillo said.

Kevin still has a long road to full recovery. He's still working on his fine motor skills, but never lost his sense of humor.

"I have been bench pressing. I did 285 ... no, I'm just kidding," he said.

He said he walks today as a testament to his hard work, good care and answered prayers.

"I owe it all to that, and God mainly," he said.

From New York, Kevin Everett heads straight to Arizona for the Super Bowl. He says he doesn't quite know what the future holds. His business ventures, motivational speaking, and coaching are all options. What he does know is that it looks brighter than it did back in September.

Everett received a personal invitation to sit with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell at Sunday's Super Bowl. Then in April, he will walk again -- down the aisle this time -- when he marries his longtime love.

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