SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) — From racing a scooter to pushing 35 pounds on a leg press, Aaron “AA” Hunter III seems like your typical 13-year-old.
You’d never know that on June 22, he was shot in the head.
“Next thing I remember, I was in the hospital,” he said.
AA says he was riding his bike, headed home from picking mangos with his friend. That’s the last thing he remembers from that day.
His mom, Erica Dorsey, on the other hand, remembers every second like it was yesterday.
“A kid actually came to the door and said AA was shot,” she recalled.
It’s the last thing any mother ever wants to hear. AA was rushed to the hospital, where he underwent multiple surgeries.
His neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital braced AA’s family for the worst.
“I was very honest with them,” Dr. George Jallo said. “I said, ‘I got him off the operating room table. He’s going to survive, but I don’t know if he’s going to come home with you.'”
8 On Your Side reporter Nicole Rogers asked Dr. Jallo, “When he first came to you, what were the chances you thought of him actually living?”
“Not good,” he responded. “Honestly, when you look a gunshot wounds to the brain and children, almost half of them do not survive.”
He thought, that if AA survives, it’s likely he will have a long, grueling battle to recovery ahead.
“The other 50% of the half that do survive are left with permanent neurological deficits, whether they can’t speak, don’t understand, [or] can’t move arm.”
Dr. Jallo told AA’s parents to brace themselves, not knowing if the 13-year-old would be able to talk, move an arm, or see out of one eye ever again.
“Aaron is in that very small set of children that are fortunate enough to walk out of the hospital,” Dr. Jallo explained.
Dorsey remembers opening the hospital door to walk out and see her family just as her son was being rushed for a CAT scan.
It was a scary experience for her in the hospital.
“He had been in the hospital for four days,” she recalled. “That day, he had a seizure.”
“That’s when I broke, and I finally cried,” she continued. “I think it was at first I was in shock, then fear, then the biggest thing was me accepting.”
After weeks in the hospital, AA was able to go home and begin his physical therapy sessions.
“I had some left-sided weakness in my leg,” AA recalled. “That was a major part of me getting back to walking.”
“I had to get that strength back in me,” he continued.
He says his hardest battle has been regaining his balance.
“I really couldn’t walk at all,” he explained. “But the [physical therapist] had a band around my waist and helped me walk and get where I am.”
John’s Hopkins All Children’s Hospital Physical Therapist Assistant Whitney Walker has been working with AA every step of the way.
“It was sad to see him in the very beginning because he was low-level,” she said. “But now I’m seeing him run again and seeing him jump.”
Walker spent Thursday working with AA. They raced scooters and worked through several different exercises, many of which AA didn’t recognize just how strong he had become.
“He truly is a magnificent walking miracle,” Walker said.
8 On Your Side reporter Nicole Rogers asked, “Is it stories like this that is why you do what you do?”
“100%,” Walker replied.
Dorsey giggled and supported her son with a smile, proud of how far he’s come.
“It’s like a breath of fresh air,” she explained. “It’s like, ‘look at my miracle.'”
“That’s my miracle baby right there,” she said grinning ear to ear.
Moving forward, Dr. Jallo said AA may have blunted vision and could develop seizures in the future. Nevertheless, he said AA is a walking miracle.
Sarasota police said at the time this article was written, no one was arrested for shooting AA. It’s still an active investigation.
AA hopes his story sends a message, saying, “It’s not okay to play with guns.”
“You shouldn’t play with guns,” he continued.