MISSOURI CITY, Texas - A Houston-area teenager was soaring in high school, taking college courses, making great grades, excelling in sports and band, when the unthinkable happened.
15-year-old Torianto "Junior" Brinson was thrown from a car during a car crash. The vehicle Junior was riding in is a complete loss.
"One minute after it happened, my daughter called me, and she was hysterical. ‘Mom, you need to get here now.’ So, they were literally around the corner from the house. So, we drove on the street. Had to get out of the car, run, and saw him lying there," explains Junior's mom, La'Kisha.
The accident in Missouri City ended up claiming Junior's life…
"There were four emergency services working on him, and he wasn't responding, he wasn't breathing, he wasn't moving, he was just lying there," explains La'Kisha.
Junior was rushed by Life Flight to the Texas Medical Center, where the situation grew even more grim.
"They told us that he was gone, there was nothing they could do, and I remember asking them, 'You're just going to let my baby just sit here?' and they were like, 'There's nothing they can do,'" says an emotional La'Kisha.
That's when she asked family to pray, and she started praying over her son's lifeless body. She begged him to come back.
"I was holding his hand and I prayed and told him, ‘Junior, I need you!’ A minute later, I saw his hand move," exclaims La'Kisha! That movement allowed him to be whisked away for emergency surgery for his traumatic brain injury.
Junior spent several months in semi coma at Memorial Hermann. Finally, the family's dream come true: he made just enough progress to be transferred to TIRR Memorial Hermann.
"He was still having trouble moving around in bed consistently. Getting up and walking was very difficult. It required two people to help him," says physical therapist Dr. Liz Larkin with TIRR Memorial Hermann. "He also struggled – and it's pretty common after an injury like his traumatic brain injury – to have noticed changes in behavior, which we expected. It actually is a good sign! It means he's getting better, but moments of difficulty regulating impulses."
Junior's brain was so severely injured, they had to monitor his stimulation.
"So, the amount of sound and noise and light and things like that, to give him the best opportunity for success," explains Dr. Larkin.
After working with Junior week-after-week at TIRR, she loves seeing how far he has come and is getting to play basketball with him again.
It's hard for Junior to imagine what he went through. He doesn't remember one thing, not even while in rehab. He says when he hears his mom tell the story, he finds it impressive!
Junior's loving family was by his side every step of the way and says he is beyond worth fighting for.
"My son didn't get in trouble. He went to school, band star since eighth grade, basketball. So I refused to believe that God was going to take his future, even though it didn't look like it. We've even had people tell us he wasn't going to walk or talk, but we believed," states La'Kisha.
Junior even completed high school classes in junior high, plus he was taking college courses in high school, so even though he missed an entire year of high school, he has enough credits to graduate on time.
"It gets hard some days to think about the past, but to see where he is at now, it gives you a little more excitement for him," says one of his biggest supporters, Brian Wells, who even came up with a schedule to make sure Junior completed all his rehabilitation in the comforts of their home.
While Junior learned and overcame a lot at TIRR Memorial Hermann, his medical team gave his family ideas of how to help him continue improving at home.
"We taught him how to brush his teeth, how to take a bath, how to eat," explains La'Kisha. "I'm a teacher, so I began to teach him fourth grade work, teach him how to comprehend what he reads again and comprehend math."
They helped him do everything until he could function on his own, and now he's doing it all well, like his slam dunks!
Junior is taking some summer courses and has now caught back up to level courses, thanks to all the love and work through TIRR Memorial Hermann and his family.