by Kristen Lowe
GREENWOOD - Every year, more than one million Americans suffer from a traumatic brain injury and more than 100,000 will die from them.
Local bullfighter Cody Hollums has defied the odds.
"I had everything stripped away from me," the 28-year-old said. "You wake up one day, and you don't know how to walk, you have to learn everything again."
Last October, Hollums was an accomplished athlete with five years of experience fighting bulls on the CBR Circuit.
"He was always a great athlete," Cody's father, Eddie, said. "It takes a tremendous amount of talent and ability to get around the bulls. He just picked up a knack for it."
Everything changed at a memorial bull riding event in Lufkin last October. A bull bucked its rider off and Cody stepped in.
[I was just thinking] gotta get that bull's attention off of him," Cody said. "That's what we're there for, to distract the bull so the guy can make a clean getaway.
The bull ran Cody over, stepping on the right side of his head, causing brain damage. Doctors told Cody's father that he probably wouldn't make it. If he did, doctors said he would have severe brain damage.
"We were just hoping he would be alive when he got there," Eddie Hollums said.
Cody spend about a week in a coma and 10 days in a medically induced coma to heal the swelling in his brain.
Immediately, family, friends and complete strangers rallied around the young bullfighter. They organized a clay shoot and concert to help pay for his medical bills. They held a benefit auction and a team roping event. They sold T-shirts and wristbands with the words "Fight Strong" on them.
Greenwood High School, where Cody was an All-State football player, painted his number on their football field for a Friday night game in his honor.
Nearly 12,000 people followed his Facebook page waiting patiently for any updates about his condition. At the end of October, he slowly started to pull out of the coma.
"You could get a little smile out of the side of his face or get him to squeeze your hand and it was the biggest deal," Eddie Hollums said. "Every day, he got better and better."
By November 6th, Cody had taken his first steps. Something he said, never would have been possible without the love and support of his girlfriend, Britinee, who never left his side.
"The big deal was, somebody would talk to me, and I wouldn't remember talking to them the next day," Cody said. "It was hard but we got through it."
Not even five months after the accident that nearly killed him, Cody is home. He is walking, talking and getting around as if the accident never happened. He no longer has the desire to bullfight but he has gained a new outlook on life.