On Sept. 12, 2014, Olathe East High School senior James McGinnis sprawled across the football field in an attempt to make a tackle. It was an innocent-looking play, but the right side of his head struck the ball carrier’s hip.
One play later, McGinnis collapsed to the ground. He was rushed to the hospital, where he underwent emergency surgery to stop bleeding in the lining of his brain. He spent the next two weeks in an intensive care unit.
“Realistically,” said Patrick McGinnis, James’ father, “We knew the odds.”
Over the next nine months, James McGinnis beat those odds — time and time again.
At Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital in Lincoln, Neb., McGinnis made steady progression, improving his speech and movements while using tutoring to keep up with his classwork.
He returned to Olathe East in February for a senior night basketball doubleheader, and he stole the evening when he stood up from his wheelchair and walked across the gymnasium floor with the aid of his father.
“I was awestruck,” said Olathe East senior T.J. Rowe, a longtime friend who attended the basketball game. “It was amazing. That’s literally the only word I can think of right now.”
McGinnis hit another milestone last month, when he walked across the stage to receive his high school diploma.
He will continue his rehab over the next year while taking classes through Johnson County Community College. He plans to attend Arkansas starting in the fall of 2016.