Virginia running back Mike Hollins made his return to the practice field on Tuesday, four months after he survived a shooting that took the lives of three of his teammates.
Hollins was a full participant as the Cavaliers began spring practice, making a marked improvement after being shot in the back in November and spent time on a ventilator before being released from the hospital after a one-week stay.
Coach Tony Elliott said, “Just to see the way he attacks everything, can easily make excuses, can easily turn things around, but he’s able to respond and show resilience and be resilient.” Taking it upon himself for.” “I think a lot of it is for myself, but a lot of it is for my teammates. There was a time when we didn’t know if he would get a chance to play football again. I’m just grateful to be on the grass.” Grateful to have this opportunity to be here at the University of Virginia and lead this program, lead these young men, all those guys who decided to come back and pick up the pieces and turn this tragedy into victory.
“So happy for Mike, because we all know your time as a football player is going to end. You certainly wouldn’t want it to end that way. So another opportunity to see him, Just to go out on your own terms, that’s what makes it really special.”
Hollins was one of four football players who were shot on a charter bus as they returned home from a trip to Washington, D.C. Teammates LeVell Davis Jr., Devin Chandler and De’Sean Perry were killed in the tragedy. . Another student, Marlee Morgan, was also shot but survived.
Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., a UVA student and former member of the traveling football team, has been charged with three counts of second-degree murder and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony. Prosecutors have also charged him with two counts of malicious wounding and additional gun-related charges related to the shootings of Hollins and Morgan.
Running back Paris Jones, Hollins’ roommate, said the entire team was inspired by the way Hollins worked to hit the ground running again.
Jones said, “The way he’s handled himself during this tragedy and the way he’s carried himself, it’s unreal.” “He’s a strong man, and his fight inspires all of us every day to keep fighting and to do the best that we can because if he can do it, so can we, so it sure is worth it.” downright inspiring.”
There were certainly mixed feelings on Tuesday as the players practiced for the first time since the tragedy. Elliott made sure his team was grateful for the opportunity, but also remembered the legacy of his fallen teammates.
Kicker Will Bettridge, a high school teammate of Perry’s, changed his number to Perry’s number 41 as a way of honoring him. Elliott said there will be other occasions throughout the year to honor Davis, Perry and Chandler.
Elliott said, “As I told people, we are not moving forward, but we have a responsibility to move forward.” “We believe that the spirit and legacy of the three men we have lost will want us to move forward. But there will be times where there will be some emotional milestones that we must go through.”
“But I do believe that from what I’ve seen so far, people have really caught on to the appreciation and gratitude that they have for being here at the University of Virginia to carry on the legacy.”