NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Christion Abercrombie walked through the doors of the Tennessee State football indoor practice facility.
The footsteps alone by Abercrombie meant victory for the redshirt-sophomore who suffered a life-threatening head injury during a football game in September.
But with every ginger step by Abercrombie on Saturday afternoon, his smile grew larger. He embraced head coach Rod Reed with a clutching hug and received several other gracious embraces by members of the TSU staff. Abercrombie had another door to walk through as he followed Reed through the hall.
Abercrombie was surprised by a room full of his awaiting teammates to meet the player and friend they missed.
The crowd of handshakes and hugs continued to grow the sunny smile of Abercrombie.
“I didn’t expect all of this,” he said.
But his mother, Staci Abercrombie, expected the blessing long before it came to fruition Saturday.
“It just means the world to me,” Staci said. "I just look at him and say it’s all God because I remember the doctor giving us one report and we were just praying and asking and begging God for his mercy. It came through and it’s visible through Christion.”
Staci, Christion and other family members traveled from Atlanta, Ga. to make the special trip. Staci said her son was becoming more aware of the events around him and wanted to see his brothers.
She nor he was nervous about the trip or saw the recovery as tough.
“There are no tough moments because this is a miracle,” Staci said. “Nothing is tough in a miracle. We knew we had to take the trip and work around our schedule. It was something that we just had to do. There will be many more and I think this is a part of his healing process. He really misses the guys. They grew to love one another and they had a strong bond and he speaks to them daily. Even though he is not 100 percent, we know each day he is getting better.”
Christion had been in contact with several teammates, including his roommate, Tekendrick Roberson.
Roberson visited Christion back in March, but Roberson said he was asleep. Christion was up and moving, cracking jokes, as usual, this time around.
“It’s a joy to see he’s walking and talking and how he fought back so fast,” Roberson said. “He’s funny and somebody that’s motivating. He’s a good person.”
Before the arrival of Christion, Reed was watching his team have a friendly game of 7-on-7 in the practice facility. Players were flying around and relishing the fun of fellowship and football before setting up tables for food before their teammate arrived.
Reed constantly reminds his team that football isn’t forever.
“It’s great just to see him up and moving around,” Reed said of Christion. “It’s a miracle and we thank God every day for his constant recovery. We can’t take anything for granted. You have to get the most out of every day and be all you can be every day and do the best of your ability on every play because you don’t know when this can be taken away from you.
“I tell guys that all the time to don’t let football define you as a person. You want to be a good citizen, a good student, brother, son, dad, whatever it is you are. Be the best you can be every day.”
Athletic Director Teresa Phillips scanned the room that was warmed by the smile of Christion and said she felt like the family was all back together.
“When I saw his mom first, it was like our family is gone and now they are back,” Phillips said. “We just went right back to our last conversations. Just seeing his happiness and joy and seeing the guys, they just picked up where they left off. It’s good seeing him so happy and physically being here with us and emotionally being here with us. It made my day.”