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 PORT ARTHUR, Texas (AP) - Kevin Everett, the Buffalo tight end recovering from a severe spinal cord injury, spoke at a high school football banquet in his hometown Thursday night.
``I didn't come prepared for a big speech,'' Everett said. ``But thank you all of Port Arthur for your support. Just with your support, you've lifted me up. Let everyone know, you've lifted me up.''
His comments were reported in Friday editions of the Port Arthur News.
The appearance by Everett, who showed little indication of his injury, was the latest step in his incredible recovery. Doctors initially feared he would never walk again after what was described as a life-threatening injury suffered while making a tackle on Domenik Hixon on Sept. 9.
Everett's helmet struck Hixon's helmet and shoulder pad, and Everett immediately collapsed face-down on the turf, remaining motionless for several minutes while medical personnel worked furiously to ascertain what was wrong.
Everett was paralyzed from the neck down when he arrived at Buffalo's Millard Fillmore Gates Hospital and spent the first few days on life support. He underwent four hours of surgery as a team of doctors realigned his neck and stabilized it with screws, rods and a titanium plate.
The prognosis was far more positive a few days later when Everett showed movement in his legs and arms and was sensitive to touch. He improved so steadily during the first two weeks he was transferred to Houston for the next stage of rehab.
``I feel blessed entirely,'' Everett said Thursday before addressing the Memorial High School football banquet. ``I deal with some pain sleeping but not to the point where I can't sleep. I take my medicine and I'm good to go.''
Everett, who attended Jefferson High School and the University of Miami, spoke briefly. His audience included high school football players, and others such as NFL-bound running back Jamaal Charles from the University of Texas and New Mexico quarterback Donovan Porterie.
``I just wanted to let everybody know I'm OK. I've been keeping up with all the positive things that have been happening in Port Arthur,'' he said. ``I want all of you to know that you have got choices. You can make it good or bad. These teachers and coaches who are constantly on you about doing the right thing, you should take heed to that. I've surrounded myself with positive people and I can tell you that nothing's impossible.''
Everett said his weight dropped to as low as 220 pounds after his injury, but that he now weighed 240.
``Every night, especially in that first week, I was offering up a prayer after I heard about his injury,'' Porterie said. ``It was all over ESPN and the NFL Network and being from Port Arthur, it was a real big blow ... a real heartbreaker.''
``So it meant a lot to see a guy of his status to bounce back and be here like this,'' he said. ``It was a big lift. Jesus came through and delivered him from his obstacle.''
Everett was introduced by friend Kenny Harrison, the offensive coordinator at Memorial.
``This guy is amazing,'' Harrison said. ``Kevin has taught me two things. First, he's taught me that nothing is too bad and second, that with God you can overcome anything.''
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