Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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MICKEY FURFARI

July 9, 2013

Column: Willie Akers making much progress

MORGANTOWN — It certainly was wonderful to hear from Willie Akers last weekend that he feels good and has been showing daily improvement.

The former West Virginia University basketball star of the late 1950s was seriously injured last Feb 13 in a damaging fall at the Charleston Civic Center Coliseum.

Watching his grandson play basketball, Akers tripped at the end of the playing floor, collapsed backwards and fell on his face.

“If you’d seen me a couple of months ago, you wouldn’t have believed that I felt good,” said Willie, who has been in his Logan, W.Va., home for six weeks.

He had been hospitalized in the Shepherd Institute at Atlanta, Ga., for 93 days of treatment.

“I was walking and started talking and tripped over the edge of the court, an inch and a half high or so, apparently I fell backwards face down,” he said of his terrible misfortune.

It was a week to 10 days before he was conscious of what had happened to him.

He fractured six vertebrae which he had to have repaired in West Virginia and then an ambulance transported him to Atlanta for his lengthy spell of hospitalization there.

Willie’s wonderful wife Linda has been at his side constantly since the mishap.

Happily in his home now, the Mullens native is walking in a walker with a couple of wheels and he’s walking with a cane and props.

“I am making a lot of progress,” Akers said. “But my right thigh and my right leg are still paralyzed.

“I’m also affected by my right shoulder and hand, but they’re improving quite a bit.”

Akers said he has been told by doctors that “it’s a 50-50 chance that I probably won’t be able to walk.”

He believes he’s past that now, however, and would love to prove that projection wrong.

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MICKEY FURFARI