UGA's Veazey paralyzed from waist down

Unclear if Bulldogs' infielder will walk again, Shepherd Center doctor says

The freshman from Tifton fractured the 10th vertebra in his back, and his spinal cord was severely damaged.

Dr. Donald Peck Leslie, medical director of the Shepherd Center, gave an update on Veazey at a Thursday news conference at the renowned rehabilitation center. He said patients with these kinds of injuries rarely regain full use of their legs.

Coach David Perno, who also attended, called Veazey's attitude "incredible."

"I don't know if a lot is still inside, I can't read that, but I know that you couldn't ask for him mentally to handle it as well as he's handled it up to this point," Perno said. "He's been everybody's strength."

Veazey also fractured several ribs and injured his left lung in the accident. Leslie described Veazey as an "amazing young man" who is becoming more independent daily.

"He's breathing on his own, getting himself into and out of bed, into and out of his wheelchair, learning transfer techniques," Leslie said. "He is a star and is going to be an even bigger star. I think he's going to get through here in pretty much record time. We're extremely proud of the progress that he's making."

Asked about Veazey's prognosis, Leslie said:

"We're not even a month into this yet. What the future may bring, what technology may bring to the table to help him, remains to be seen."

Veazey is expected to be released from the Shepherd Center in mid-December. After the holidays, the plan is for him to return for daily rehabilitation while living in the Woodruff Family Residence Center next door.

At 10:40 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 28, Veazey was southbound on his scooter on Lumpkin Street when a northbound 1996 Honda Civic driven by a Conyers woman turned left onto Baxter Street in front of him, police said. Veazey tried to avoid a collision but the scooter slid onto its side and hit the side of the car.

Veazey underwent surgery at an Athens hospital to stabilize his spine, then was transferred to Shepherd.

The 5-foot-9, 175-pounder projected as a starter for the 2010 season because of his strong left-handed bat, solid glove and gritty approach to the game, Perno said.

"It was very unusual for a freshman to take accountability like he took it," the coach said. "He just never made excuses, always pushed and tried to make everyone better around him."

Veazey made a big impact on the program in a short time, Perno added.

"He's part of our family and will always be," he said. "We're wishing the best for him, praying for a miracle, and I hope things will turn out the way they need to."

Veazey's friends have set up a fund to help offset medical costs. Checks should be made out to Prayers for Chance and sent to Athens First Bank and Trust, Attn: Phil Bettendorf, P.O. Box 1747, Athens, GA 30603 or First Community Bank, Attn: Mike Davis, P.O. Box 8, Tifton, GA 31794.

For updates on Veazey, log on to www.caringbridge.org/visit/chanceveazey.

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