Virginia RB Perris Jones walks out of Louisville hospital after spinal surgery, rehab

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Virginia running back Perris Jones is leaning on memories of his days as a walk-on for the Cavaliers to remind him that patience is essential, and rewarding.

Jones spoke at a news conference Tuesday to mark his discharge from the University of Louisville Frazier Rehabilitation Institute, where he was receiving treatment for a spinal injury he suffered during the Cavaliers’ Nov. 9 game at Louisville.

The sixth-year player was injured after catching a pass. He fumbled after a hard hit by Cam’Ron Kelly, was immobilized on a flat board and carted off the field. Jones had spinal surgery the next day and had remained in Louisville since, doing rehabilitation.

After the play, Jones said he couldn’t feel anything.

“After the hit, I just kind of realized my body go numb in a sense that I hit the ground, didn’t even really feel myself hit the ground. Just kind of was sitting there like, what in the world is happening?” Jones said.

“I’m a very faithful guy, so I just closed my eyes, said a little quick prayer, you know, told the Lord that I was listening because I do believe everything happens for a reason. And that kind of gave me a little calming presence.”

Neither Jones nor the doctors who joined him at Tuesday’s news conference offered many specifics about his injury or his long-term prognosis. Jones was walking without difficulty on Tuesday and was seen in videos released by the hospital doing agility exercises. Virginia and UofL Health said in news releases that Jones has made “tremendous progress.”

The Louisville hospital is considered one of the best in the country for spinal injuries.

“It’s no coincidence that the injury that took place took place in this specific place,” Jones said. “You know, the best neurosurgeons and spinal cord injury surgeons and the best rehab facilities that the world has to offer. In my opinion, you couldn’t ask for a better place to be for this injury to take place.”

Jones told the medical staff: “I don’t consider you guys doctors. You guys are all aunts and uncles, whether you like it or not. And you guys are a part of the family forever. And I truly, truly mean that.”

Jones’ father, Stevie, joined him at the news conference.

“I’m eternally grateful that he was wheeled into this place and we will walk out,” he said. “What you all have done is allow me to see the picture that I absolutely needed to see, which is my son walking away from here. So, thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”

Reporting by The Associated Press.

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