Mike Hollins back at UVA to ‘keep legacy going’ for teammates who died
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Lying in a hospital bed back in November, Mike Hollins says doctors told him it would be 4-6 months before he could put his socks on or lift anything.
The next day, he was up and walking around like normal. Now, Hollins is running and catching passes in spring practice, and he says he has no physical pain.
Hollins says playing football again was the furthest thing from his mind, but here he is four months later on the football field, taking everything day by day.
Hollins says he never forgets his three teammates, Lavel Davis Jr., Devin Chandler, and D’Sean Perry, who lost their lives.
“They don’t leave my mind. It’s a constant motivation, constant drive, constant effort to keep their flame lit and keep their legacy going,” Hollins said.
Hollins says he began rehab the day he woke up in the hospital after the November shooting. He has had to relearn how to use his core and rebuild the muscles. He says the physical rehab has by far been the easiest.
“But the mental aspect, the mental recovery is brand new to me. I’m still taking it day to day, taking it slowly,” Hollins said.
Physically, coaches are taking it slow with Hollins. He’s been back on a limited basis in practice, but he is expected to go live later this week.
“The only thing different about Mike is he’s a little bit lighter, but he has the same athletic ability. The balance with the ball in his hand and the competitiveness, it’s all there. It’s the same Mike Hollins,” UVA Running Back Coach Keith Gaither said.
“I don’t see any drop-off, at least I don’t feel any drop-off. It may be cause I’m pushing extra hard now because I have a lot more to play for,” Hollins said.
“They call him Iron Mike for a reason. His strength, his spirit, his character really shows through every day out here in workouts. Mike is actually my roommate, so I spend a lot of time with him outside the facility as well. Just how he carries himself throughout this tragedy and continues to carry himself. He is a strong man and he encourages us every day to continue to fight and do the best we can every day, because if he can do it, we can as well,” Parris Jones said.
Hollins admits that he thought about not returning to UVA.
“Anyone would think about leaving after something like that. I could have left, but what if the coaches didn’t have the same support? They didn’t go through what I went through,” Hollins said. “They didn’t know Lavell, they didn’t know D’Sean, they didn’t know Devin. Those little things kept me here and I’m glad I stayed. The support is what I need to get through.”
Hollins has already gotten his degree from UVA in American and African American Studies.
He is currently working on getting his Master’s in higher education, along with numerous classes in mental health and how to support college athletes with mental health issues.
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