ST. LOUIS — Jaylen Walker was a delivery driver for Amazon when he was shot in the spine on March 6 during an argument over a handicapped parking space at a St. Charles Target.
Since the shooting, the 21-year-old has had to re-learn how to live without the ability to walk. He’s been in recovery at the Rehab Institute of St. Louis in Central West End for the last 2.5 months, KMOV reports.
When he first got to SLU Hospital after the shooting, doctors told him he likely wouldn’t have any movement from the neck down, but Jaylen has since proved them wrong.
He’s teaching himself how to play basketball in a wheelchair, a sport that has always been a passion of his.
“I picked up a basketball at a young age, at 3-years-old,” said Walker.
He is also doing push-ups and lifting weights with the help of his therapist.
He has the faith he will walk again someday.
Since he’s been in rehab, he’s experienced more grief. His cousin, 23-year- old Nicholas Perkins, who visited him regularly in rehab, died in a car accident on I-55 just south of downtown St. Louis on May 19. Perkins was the passenger in a car that crashed into the rear of a 18-wheeler.
“We grew up together, we were like brothers,” said Walker, “If anything, I’m going to keep pushing for him.”
Walker pushes himself out of his wheelchair, getting stronger daily, for another person he loves.
“I have a son [1 year old] that looks up to me and I don’t want to ever let him down,” said Walker.
Walker says he’s forgiven the man who shot him so that he can focus on his family instead of the past.
“I pray for him everyday, just like I pray for me to recover everyday,” said Walker.
When Walker leaves rehab, he does not have a place to live with his son that is wheelchair accessible. A GoFundMe account has been setup to help Jaylen with his medical expenses and to find a new home that will be his needs.
To donate to that fund, click here.
As for the man accused of shooting Walker, he was indicted by a grand jury last week on charges related to the shooting. Larry Thomlison is facing felony assault and armed criminal action charges. He’s scheduled to be arraigned on July 1. Thomlison is also facing a civil lawsuit filed by Walker.