St. Joe High School basketball player shares his story after overcoming gun violence

NOW: St. Joe High School basketball player shares his story after overcoming gun violence

SOUTH BEND, Ind., --- Bouncing Back is a story not only about survival but overcoming gun violence. Tyler Brown, a teenager and promising basketball player was shot in the head on the streets of South Bend in October of 2021. Now just over a year later, he's back on the court and sharing a message to others.

“The doctors and the nurses was like, I wouldn't be alive,” said Tyler Brown. “People was telling my friends I won't play basketball again.”

When the odds were stacked against the 17-year-old he says doubt was never an option for him.

“So, I proved a lot of people wrong and I'm going to keep proving people wrong.”

The South Bend St. Joe High School Basketball player surviving the unthinkable, struck in the head by a bullet.

It happened back in October of 2021 while on the way to his dad’s house.

The then sophomore just leaving basketball practice.

“I was at a stop sign and then they start shooting, and then I didn't know they were shooting at us…and then I put my head down and I got shot,” Tyler recalled.  “I think the police threw me on a stretcher, and that's all I remember.”

The devastating act of gun violence left the teenager fighting for his life in the hospital.

“I had a trach in my throat, and I took it out the first time, and then they put another trach, smaller trach in,” said the teen.

His loved ones unsure if he was even going to survive.

“Me and Tyler are first cousins we grew up together, been together our whole life. It hurt. A lot of sleepless nights, thinking about Tyler and what his future will hold,” said Jayce Lee, Tyler’s cousin and basketball teammate.

 “I was able to get into the hospital because of my position, and was able to get back and we were able to at least see him and it looked pretty bad,” added Tyler’s Uncle, Pastor Canneth Lee, who also works with Group Violence Intervention.

During hours of surgery and months in the hospital, Tyler continued down to the road to recovery,

relearning how to do basic tasks all over again.

“I had to relearn how to say mom again. That was like, tough,” Tyler said.  “I had to relearn how to walk. So first of all, my god ma and a nurse had to lift me up, lift my legs up to walk with me and then I had to use a walker, and I had to walk on there for like two weeks and then I started with a cane.”

This journey for Tyler was anything but easy.

“The nurses kept telling me, you not walking, right and I was frustrated,” he said.

Tyler adding it was his family and his faith that helped push him to recover.

Nearly a year after being shot, the teen was finally able to put his game day jersey back on.

“I felt nervous. I was like, I was kind of scared. The first game I was scared, but then the second game, I was like, I'm going to go score,” recalled Tyler, “I'm going to attack to the rim. I got the foul and I shot two free throws and I made them.”

“What a special moment, and to think of the guys how excited they were for him and seeing his little smile as he hit that shot. That's a moment I will never forget as a coach,” added Eric Gaff, the head Coach for the St. Joe High School Boys Basketball team.

An unforgettable moment not only for Tyler and his team, but also his family.

“It has always been his dream to play at a high level and for him to be able to play the game that he loves. It's honestly touching,” said Jayce.

“I am so proud of his tenacity and his faith in God, his faith and fighting to get back to a position,” added Pastor Lee.

Tyler’s journey especially hitting home for his uncle, a community advocate against gun violence and a pastor at the church that sits just feet away from Elwood and Johnson Streets where his nephew was shot.

“We do a lot of things to help lift our community up. So, for it to happen right in front of my church. I took it as a slap to the face or a personal attack against the work that we're doing,” said Pastor Lee. “Our young people don't understand that once you pull the trigger, you can't get that bullet back… it really affects more than just the person shot.”

The teen now joins his uncle to share his experience and message about gun violence.

“Just stop doing it. It's just you're not going to get nowhere, but in jail, or in a grave. It's just like, it is no good outcome,” said Tyler.

Tyler told ABC57 news he’s still working to recover from the shooting physically and mentally, but he says he wouldn’t have been here without the support of his family, his team and St. Joe High School.

He also added he’s looking forward to playing basketball as a senior next year, then going off to college and sharing his story through public speaking.

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