Pennsylvania Teen Shooting Survivor Rebounds to Keep Hoop Dreams Alive
ESPN has West Mifflin Area High School seniors Taylor Thomas and Ciara Patterson ranked among the best girls' basketball players in Pennsylvania. They both plan to play college basketball.
A little more than two years ago, doctors didn't know if Thomas would ever be able to play again after she was shot 10 times at a Sweet 16 party in Duquesne.
"I was losing blood," she said. "There was blood everywhere."
When Thomas' parents arrived at the scene, her mother feared the worst.
"She's like, 'Where's Taylor?' And I had the hoodie over my head, and she thought I was dead," Thomas said.
Miraculously, Thomas survived. But her friend was killed in the attack -- a wound that will never heal.
"Just don't take your life for granted, because you can be gone in a wink of an eye," she said.
Her teammates have adopted the same attitude.
"Knowing that happened, things can change so fast before the blink of an eye and you have to protect each other and not take anything for granted," Paige Flore said.
Now, Thomas is helping lead the Lady Titans on an impressive run in the WPIAL playoffs. They'll play Ringgold in the quarterfinals on Saturday at Peters Township.
Thomas' team helps her make the most of her second chance.
"That right there pushed us to go stronger and gave us goals, gave us hopes to look forward to," Patterson said.
Teammates watch as Thomas runs up and down the court with bullet fragments still lodged in her leg. They have a saying -- "We hold the rope" -- to show how they stick together as a family and have each other's backs.
"It's honestly the truth -- I value life more and, like, I'm way more sensitive and stuff, and I want to be the best at everything I do. And even if I struggle, I just want everyone to be together," Thomas said.
Even though the Titans are playing so well, and so together, Thomas said it's not just the changes on the court that matter.
"Before, I wouldn't really care if my mom and dad screamed at me, or if my mom would cry if she's, like, so hurt of what I did," Thomas said. "But now I value, like, I should be appreciative that she's doing this and that she actually cares for me."