Kevin Everett: 'He Is a Tiger'

Everett tells Bob Woodruff about his recovery from a spinal cord injury.

ByABC News
December 26, 2008, 12:57 PM

Jan. 31, 2008 — -- He was told he might never walk again. He was told he might not survive.

And then he defied astronomical odds.

Former Buffalo Bills football player Kevin Everett was unable to move his body from the neck down after he was injured making a tackle in the Bills' Sept. 9 season-opening game. But now, less than five months later, Everett is walking on his own, shocking even his physicians with his quick recovery.

Watch the story tonight on "Nightline" at 11:35 p.m. ET

His recovery, a true medical mystery, has captured national attention and caused a stir in the medical community.

On a recent visit to Everett's home in Humble, Texas, ABC's Bob Woodruff asked whether he ever considered giving up.

"That's not me, I don't give up. I don't settle for less," Everett said. "I was thinking the whole time I was going to get better, just like any other injury that I had."

Seventy-one thousand fans watched the Bills' 2007 season opener. As Everett lined up for the second-half kickoff against the Denver Broncos, he told teammate Anthony Thomas to keep an eye on him.

"I was like, 'Show me something,'" recalled Thomas, "And he was like, 'I'm gonna show you. Let me go down there and make a tackle.'"

Expectations were high for the man who wore No. 85. After a knee injury and two disappointing seasons with the Bills, Everett, 25, was eager to make his mark in the NFL.

"It was the year," said Dick Jauron, the Bills' head coach. "We were pushing him. He was the guy that we were going to use a lot."

"We always talked about it. Kevin is very, 'One day, baby, everybody is going to know who I am. I'm Kevin Everett, I'm going to be the best tight end ever,'" recalled Everett's fiancée, Wiande Moore.

The kickoff sent the ball end over end into a gray sky. What happened next would make anyone wish it had never come down.

Everett raced down the field and went in for the tackle of the Bronco's Domenik Hixon. Everett's helmet collided violently with the side of Hixon's helmet and shoulder pads, and Everett dropped to the ground, face-first.

"You knew it was something serious, just the motion of his body and the way he fell, almost lifeless, to the ground," said paramedic supervisor Scott Karaszewski, watching from the sidelines.

Facedown on the field, Everett was desperately trying to lift himself off the turf.

"I was like, 'I got to get up,' because I heard my teammates saying, 'C'mon, get up, let's go,'" Everett recalled. "I couldn't move. I tried."

An eerie silence draped over the stadium, as players from both teams knelt in prayer and the Bills medical staff surrounded Everett on the field.

Dr. Andy Cappuccino, the Bills' spine specialist, was quickly by Everett's side, and recalls asking, "Kevin, can you move your arms and legs?" Cappuccino says Everett's response was, "I am moving them."

"No, Kevin, you're not moving them," Cappuccino told Everett.