WASHINGTON – Tall and handsome and smiling broadly, the youngest victim of the Beltway Sniper shootings said Friday he is looking forward to getting back on the basketball court and hanging out with his friends.
"I just never gave up," 13-year-old Iran Brown said as he spoke to reporters for the first time at Children's Hospital in Washington.
The middle schooler said he credits God with his remarkable recovery from a bullet wound that shredded his organs and threatened his life. He said he's not in any pain.
"I feel great and am looking forward to playing a lot of basketball and hanging out with my friends," he said.
Iran was hospitalized for several weeks with severe injuries to many of his major organs including his spleen, stomach and pancreas.
"He's recovering well," said Doctor Martin Eichelberger, adding that Iran is one of the best patients he's ever had.
He said Iran's young age, good health, his family's support and the steps taken by the first medical workers who treated him were largely responsible for his recovery. He said the only medication the boy needs now is an antibiotic, because doctors had to remove his spleen.
Iran's mother, Lisa Brown, thanked the general public for its concern and asked the press to respect the family's privacy. "My family has been turned upside down," she said.
Iran became the eighth victim of the shooting spree that terrorized the Washington suburbs when he was shot the morning of Oct. 7 on his way into Benjamin Tasker Middle School in Bowie, Md.
Police said the shooter lay in wait on a nearby hill. Iran had just left his aunt's car when he was shot in the abdomen. The aunt put him back into the car and sped to a nearby clinic for emergency treatment.
John Muhammad, 41 and John Lee Malvo 17, have been charged with the shooting and are in jail awaiting trial on other murder charges. Authorities have linked them to 19 shootings, including 13 deaths, in Washington, Maryland and Virginia as well as Louisiana, Georgia and Alabama.
A Justice Department official confirmed Friday that Una James, Malvo's mother, was being deported back to Jamaica. She had been flown first from Seattle to Miami and was preparing to travel from there to Jamaica, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.