A West Side teenager was playing basketball two years ago when a bullet nearly ended his life. Now, as he prepares for his senior season, he has an inspiring message for Chicagoans.
Damari Hendrix, 18, was given a 1 percent chance of survival after he was shot in the head while playing basketball with his brother on a court near their Austen home.
A bullet, fired by a person who was not shooting at Hendrix, went through his brain, and doctors didn’t think he would survive the wound.
Even after he began recovering from his injuries, doctors thought that he would be in a wheelchair for the rest of his life, but he had other ideas.
Now, two years after the incident, Hendrix is not just surviving: he is thriving, and refusing to be another statistic of the violence problem in Chicago.
“I didn’t know if it was going to work out, but over time I was progressing and stuff and it did and I was like ‘I’m gonna keep running with it and it got better and better,’” he said.
Now, Hendrix is back playing basketball, and no one would know that he had suffered a traumatic brain injury just two years ago.
He says that his secret to recovery has been persistence and positivity, and he’s sharing that message with others as he hopes to use his strength, and his story, to inspire others.
“If you’re going through something, you can’t give up,” he said. “You gotta try and keep trying. Whatever you do, give it 100 percent.”
His story was turned into a nearly-11 minute documentary film on Uninterrupted, a website co-founded by Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James.
He was also profiled in a recent piece on ESPN's The Undefeated, which detailed his harrowing journey through seizures and family struggles during his recovery.
Those heart-wrenching details include the surgeries required to repair the damage to his skull, which involved taking a piece of his skull and fusing it to his abdomen. Hendrix also went through grand mal seizures, and had to wear a helmet to protect his skull.
Even through all of that, he persevered, and now is aiming to guide his high school team to an undefeated season, and he wants to play college basketball when he graduates next year.