By Bob Sutton
Special to The Alamance News
“He’s probably pretty fortunate he’s here. For him to be able to play is pretty unreal.”
– Southern basketball coach Chris Miller
“I wasn’t expecting to play at all this year. I got back. I put in my work, ended up getting back earlier than we thought. It was good, having all the fans behind my back and everything. Coming in and hearing all the fans behind my back and supporting [me].”
– Southern High School Junior Tyler Moore, almost six months after near-fatal automobile accident
“I don’t remember anything from the wreck at all. I woke up and I was at the hospital and they were putting a metal rod through my leg.”
– Tyler Moore
Tyler Moore has no recollection of much of what happened on an August morning when he was on the way to Southern Alamance’s football practice.
But he won’t forget the reaction this week when he finally stepped back into a game, this time for the Patriots’ boys’ basketball team.
A months-long process of recuperation reached another level for Moore since what has been described as a near-fatal automobile accident.
“I wasn’t expecting to play at all this year,” Moore said. “I got back. I put in my work, ended up getting back earlier than we thought. It was good, having all the fans behind my back and everything. Coming in and hearing all the fans behind my back and supporting [me].”
It was an emotional return to action. As the junior went to the scorers’ table to check in with 2:09 remaining in the first quarter Monday night, the applause began; it turned into a major ovation.
With the score 7-7 in the Tony Perrou matchup vs. Williams, Moore almost immediately scored off an offensive rebound. On the next possession, he scored on a jumper from the low post. It wasn’t a full storybook scenario for his comeback inasmuch as Williams went on to win 68-60.
But for the Patriots, it was much more than that.
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“He’s probably pretty fortunate he’s here,” Southern coach Chris Miller said. “For him to be able to play is pretty unreal.”
Miller had made several hospital visits to see Moore last summer.
Moore was en route to E.M. Holt Elementary School, where the Patriots were holding preseason practices because of construction on the high school campus. His Hyundai Sonata was rammed by a tractor trailer.
From there, Moore was unaware of what was taking place. He was taken by ambulance from the scene and then airlifted to Chapel Hill.
“I don’t remember anything from the wreck at all,” he said. “I woke up and I was at the hospital and they were putting a metal rod through my leg.”
For nearly the next month, Moore was at UNC Hospitals and then a rehabilitation center in Hillsborough.
“They weren’t expecting me to run or jump for at least six months,” he said.
Moore’s injuries were extensive.
“My main (problem) was that I broke my pelvis, it shattered and came completely undone,” he said. “I had like six or seven other little fractures, but they all healed by themselves. I couldn’t walk by myself without any help for like 12 weeks.”
Some teammates visited and others saw photos. That was jarring for teenagers.
“It’s hard to see your teammate almost on his deathbed. It’s hard to look at,” said senior Harrison Watson, a football and basketball teammate. “He has been working hard. It shows how much work he has put in – to almost lose his life and then to come back and do what he has done.”
Moore, 17, made it to a football game in September in a wheelchair. He missed the first nine weeks of school.
Yet as his rehabilitation reached certain points, he sensed a comeback.
“I knew a couple of months ago that I was going to play this season,” he said.
Moore had surgery on a finger earlier in the summer. That was a small deal after the accident.
Once cleared for activity, there was the process of getting him up to speed. Miller said he consulted with Moore’s mother, Crystal May, as the potential mid-January opportunity approached.
“He had been practicing pretty good,” Miller said. “The kids were pretty excited about it. They know what he has been through.”
Moore, who also has returned to a part-time job at Autobell Car Wash in Burlington, said he should be able to play football in his senior year. Coaches said he would have been the team’s top wideout in 2022.
He’s a second-year varsity player in basketball – his favorite sport. In the Williams game, he ended up with six points.
More important was the chance to be out there. Then came postgame hugs and handshakes from many well-wishers.
“Just practicing and getting my body moving again, it felt normal,” he said. “I feel like I’m about 95 percent. There’s some soreness and tightness.”
And a sense of accomplishment. He didn’t feel alone.
“It has been a journey,” he said. “I had a bunch of support.”