BUFFALO, N.Y. – Patricia Dugas reached out, touched Kevin Everett's arm and asked her son if he could feel her hand. Everett — lying in a hospital bed, barely awake and hooked to life support systems — nodded yes.
"I can't even explain it to you, he's like a miracle," Dugas said, her voice breaking in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.
Everett's mother spoke publicly for the first time Wednesday, one day after doctors reversed Everett's grim prognosis when he voluntarily moved his arms and legs.
"That's right. They're surprised themselves," Dugas said. "They don't know Kevin Everett. Oh, man, I always told him when he was a little boy, 'You show them better than you can tell them.' He's going to be fine. I really believe it."
She said Everett can shake his head, even throw it back in laughter. He has trouble speaking because of a breathing tube, so instead she said Everett is using a device to spell out words on a screen by hitting letters with a pen in his mouth.
Dugas left her home in Port Arthur, Texas, on Monday not knowing whether her son, the Bills reserve tight end, would ever walk again after sustaining a life-threatening spinal cord injury.
On Tuesday, everything changed as she watched her son move his limbs and feel her touch when he was partially awakened from a sedated state.
"Based on our experience, the fact he's moving so well, so early after such a catastrophic injury means he will walk again," said Dr. Barth Green, chairman of the department of neurological surgery at the University of Miami school of medicine. "It's totally spectacular, totally unexpected."
Emotionally drained yet genuinely upbeat, Dugas let out a big laugh in discussing how difficult the last four days have been.
"Happy," said Dugas, who joined her son at his bedside at Buffalo's Millard Fillmore Gates Hospital on Monday. "I'm extremely happy. I'm grateful."
Everett sustained the injury Sunday after ducking his head while tackling the Denver Broncos' Domenik Hixon during the second-half kickoff of the Bills' season opener. He dropped face-first to the ground after his helmet hit Hixon high on the left shoulder and side of the helmet.
"It's feasible, but it's not 100 percent predictable at this time ... he could lead a normal life," said Green, who added he has been consulting with doctors in Buffalo since Everett was injured.
In a report Tuesday evening, Buffalo's WIVB-TV quoted Bills orthopedic surgeon Dr. Andrew Cappuccino as saying: "We may be witnessing a minor miracle."
Dugas is certain.
"We're going to take it slow getting him up on his feet, but we hope to see him walk out of here," she said. "He has a strong will and determination. I tell you, he's not going to settle for this. You're all going to see a miracle."