DURHAM — As Leslie Holliday watched her son Blair lead the Blue Devils into Wallace Wade Stadium two hours before their game against N.C. Central, she could have cried.
She could have cried because two months ago her son was pulled unconscious from the waters of Lake Tillery after a July 4 accident. He was in a coma after a helicopter took him to UNC Trauma Center. Since then, her son has moved from inpatient to outpatient therapy, relearning how to walk and talk, at the Sheppard Center in Atlanta. The rehabilitation hospital specializes in medical treatment, research and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord and brain injuries.
But Leslie Holliday didnt cry Saturday because she didnt want to embarrass her son, she said. Instead, she gave him a hug as he walked by in his black suit and purple-checkered tie.
Its exciting, she said. Im so happy.
Blair is so blessed.
Its the first time Leslie, who lives in Sherman Oaks, Calif., had come to a Duke game, and it was a pleasant surprise. Originally, the plan had been for Blair to watch Duke at nearby Georgia Tech on Nov. 17. But Blair changed that.
Hes beat his goals, so were here today, were early, and were excited, she said. He has a long way to go, but we just wanted to share where he is with our family, and thats here at Duke.
The support has gone both ways. Jamison Crowder, who was riding the watercraft that hit Blair, said Leslies support has helped him as well.
When I first came in contact with her after the incident, his parents were real welcoming, they were real warm and gave me great warmth, Crowder said Wednesday when he heard Blair was coming. They didnt try to act like it was my fault. They knew it was an accident, and they were just trying to comfort me.
No words could express what it meant to Leslie to watch Blair walk alongside teammates Conner Vernon and Desmond Scott from Towerview Drive into Wallace Wade Stadium and then out to the middle of the field as an honorary captain for the coin toss. Nothing could.
Not even tears.