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Keion Randle

On September 12, 2016, Keion Randle sat outside the apartment he shares with his mom and twin sister. He was visiting with two friends when, for some reason Keion still doesn’t understand, one of the young men fired a shotgun at him. His friend, Deon, called 911 and held Keion until help arrived.

EMTs rushed him to Ben Taub Hospital. Shot in the abdomen from close range, the damage was extensive. Keion was unconscious for five days, and during that time, he had four surgeries. Doctors removed his large intestines and part of his pancreas. He awoke to drainage and feeding tubes and intense pain.

“I wasn’t supposed to live, and then I was told I might not walk again. The nurses kept my head up. They told me, ‘It’s up to you.’ They treated me like there was still something to live for.

“I want to thank the ambulance drivers. They told me from the beginning they would get me through this. They got me to Ben Taub, the number one trauma place, where the doctors saved my life.”

Keion was in Ben Taub until October 7 and in a rehabilitation facility until early December. He never knew he could appreciate home so much. “Being in my own bed, seeing my whole family, resting— I was happy to be home, to be alive.”

The former high school linebacker was excited when he could walk without assistance, and he continues building strength and endurance. He has a colostomy that doctors hope to remove within a year. And he has a port where he receives medication to help prevent weight loss. He looks forward to putting recovery behind him and getting his commercial driver’s license. “I want to see the world, and why not get paid for it?”

Keion’s family is close. His mom and sister check on him all the time, and his older brother keeps tabs from college. While Keion thinks of Deon as a second brother, he’s reluctant to make new friends because he “misjudged the friend” who shot him.

“I’m living a blessing,” he says. “I’m still here, and soon this will all be in my past.”