Teenager paralyzed after football injury returns to Houston County

Posted at 10:51 PM, Jan 10, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-11 10:16:36-05

HOUSTON COUNTY, Tenn. (WTVF) — Dozens filled the Houston County High School gym on Thursday night for a one-of-a-kind homecoming, that at one point seemed extremely unlikely.

On Aug, 3, Houston County High School senior Jefferey Cox made a routine tackle in a scrimmage against Jo Byrns High School, but during the play Cox went down. When he woke up hours later, he was at the hospital, and paralyzed from the neck down.

"I wasn't really all there, I don't remember much of anything," Cox explained.

Cox spent the next five months in hospital rooms. He was at 45 days at Vanderbilt University Medical Center before moving to the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, a rehabilitation center that specializes in brain and spinal cord injuries. Throughout his rehab, people across the Houston County community followed along with his progress, and on Thursday night they filled the school's gym to welcome him back home.

During the welcome event, Cox was surprised by people he met through his journey back to Houston County: A little girl who looked to him as an inspiration, a trauma nurse at VUMC who treated him and the Jo Byrns High School athletic trainer that many credit with saving Cox's life. Throughout the event, people gave emotional speeches, bringing the dozens of friends, family and community members in the crowd to tears.

"It's very see him go through all this, it's unbelievable honestly," one longtime classmate said after the welcome.

"It's just amazing because a lot of people didn't expect me to make it this far," Cox said. "It's just exciting to see all the people and all the support."

And Cox said he'll need that support as he takes his next steps in his recovery. When asked about his next goal in his recovery, he said "to walk."

Cox heads back to classes at Houston County High School on Monday. He hopes to attend Austin Peay State University and someday become a lawyer.