Temporarily benched. Wanting to hoop.

Ronnie Dean Lewis says he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. On January 26, 2013, he, with a friend, was visiting his cousin when two armed men invaded the house and demanded money. The three were forced to the floor.

Ronnie Dean jumped up and tried to run. He escaped from the house, but was shot nine times. He vaulted over a fence, but when he tried to stand, his legs would not cooperate. The other two men also were shot, and Dean learned later his cousin died.

All of Ronnie Dean’s gunshot wounds were in his hips and below. He was unconscious for a week and in Ben Taub Hospital for two months, and later transferred to Quentin Mease Hospital for two months of rehabilitation. During his time at Ben Taub, he had eight surgeries to repair broken bones, manage blood clots and amputate the toes on his right foot. He says, “The hardest thing was losing my toes. It’s not how I came into this world.”

Thanks to excellent care and therapy, recovery has been steady. He started walking again in early 2014. The long recuperation required patience, something Ronnie Dean had to develop. Physical therapy was difficult as he reclaimed use of the bottom half of his body.

Before the accident, he was a student at Lone Star Kingwood and a member of the school’s basketball team.

He’s looking forward to one more surgery, a hip replacement, then he wants to try running again. “I want to go to school if I can hoop. If I can’t hoop, I’ll get a job.”

Ronnie Dean says that Ben Taub was good and “the nurses were cool.” He enjoyed the freedom in Quentin Mease. “It was good to be out of bed,” he says. “I could drive my wheelchair to the TV room or outside.” And, though he was nervous at first, he learned to pop a wheelie in his chair.

Today, Ronnie Dean is relieved to be out of pain. He’s a hard worker who’s determined to get back on the basketball court. Until then, he will live with his mom and stay put and, from now on, he plans to be in the right place.

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