A Second Chance: The Garret Hall Story

A Second Chance: The Garret Hall Story

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- The sun is just rising over Greensboro, and Garret Hall is already on a football field.

"I don't wake up at 4 a.m. for no reason," he said. "I don't hit the practice field at 7 a.m. for no reason, I don't go 100 percent for no reason."

But, if you want to truly understand his reason, you'll have to first look to his past.

Hall played football at Southwestern Randolph High School in Asheboro, but football wasn't always in the cards.

"Originally, my mom didn’t want me to play,” he said.

His mother Mandy Hall said, "I was unsure about it because [football] can be dangerous.”

Eventually, Garret's mother changed her mind, and football became everything.

"It wasn't just a sport for me, it's kind of a way of an escape from life," he said. "And, my senior year, I started getting more looks."

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After Garret graduated from Southwestern Randolph in 2012, he left home for Matthews, NC, to play a semester of football a Jireh Prep School. His goal was to get a scholarship offer from a Division-I college.

"I had schools like NC State, Coastal Carolina checking me out at the time."

While Garret was on the path to living out his dream, his mother had some concerns.

"Something in the back of my head made me feel uneasy," she said. "I thought it was just the fact that [Garret] was not going to be at home, and then later I think the reason I felt uneasy was because maybe I knew something was coming."

Her worst fears came true the morning of July 15, 2012.

Garret, and a few of his Jireh Prep teammates went to a house party in east Charlotte. He says they stayed at the house for only a few minutes before they realized they shouldn't have been there.

"We saw some things that we didn't want to be associated with," he said. "We saw some people we didn't want to be associated with."

After just a few minutes, the group decided to leave the house, but not before the person who invited them stopped to talk in the driveway.

As Garret remembers, "we stood there for maybe 2 or 3 minutes talking to him and then... we were just talking to him… and then I heard a scream."

Following the screams, were gunshots. Someone at the party opened fire, killing one teenager and injuring two others. It didn't take Garret long to realize he was one of them.

"I took three steps. I specifically remember three steps, and then my leg gave out."

Garret had been shot once in the leg. As the rest of the party guests scattered, he found himself alone in an unfamiliar place with only his thoughts.

"I just looked down, and I thought I was going to die," he said, holding back tears. "I didn't know what to think. I'm very religious, I cried out to God, prayed for him to save my life, please don't let it happen to me.”

As Garret prayed, help arrived.

"The nurses in the back of the ambulance were freaking out," he recalled. "And, I asked one of the guys, and I looked at him and said, 'please don't let me die,' and he looked, and he paused with like a sad face, and he said, 'I'm going to do my best.' And, at that point, I thought all hope was gone, I thought I was going to die in that ambulance."

It was around that time Garret's parents got the call no parent wants to receive.

"The phone rang, and I thought immediately that something might be wrong," Garret's mother said. "We just stood there, we didn't know what to say. All the voices started fading into the background. It just got real quiet, the room just started spinning."

Garret would need a fasciotomy to relieve tension and pressure in his leg. Doctors told him he might not walk, let alone play football, ever again.

But, as he laid in his hospital bed, he decided this wasn't the end: "I didn't want to let my parents down or my sister down."

For the next year, he rehabbed his leg, working out at Proehlific Park to get back into shape. He tried to earn a spot as a walk-on at Liberty University, but the school did not have space for him on the team. Still, he kept fighting for a second chance, and one day, something changed.

Garret’s mother sent his story to the 700 Club.

"After it aired, a family friend sent Garret's football link to the coach at Greensboro College," she said.

Soon after that, Garret got a call from Greensboro College head football coach Greg Crum; he wanted Garret on his team.

"There were a lot of things about Garret that made me want him here," Crum said. "Number one, he's a great kid, a high character guy."

"I cried, I'll be honest with you," Garret said. "I told my mom, I went into the next room, and I cried and told her that a coach wanted me to play for him, and I broke down like a little baby."
Crum didn't even know Garret's backstory when he signed him.

"For him to bounce back and be here today, number one, is a blessing, and number two, for him to be able to play the sport that he loves, as hard as he plays, it is amazing," Crum said.

Now, at 23 years old, Garret is a junior in the classroom, but, a freshman on the field.

"It's an accomplishment every Saturday, putting on an actual jersey, for an actual team, playing in a stadium against another team."

He proudly wears his number 14 each weekend for the Pride because all this is about more than a scholarship.

"Five years later, everything that everybody said, 'you're never going to play again,' the doctor said, 'this is impossible,' I did it, and all the hard work I put in finally paid off."

Before the shooting, Garret Hall's reason for getting back on the field, practicing at dawn and giving everything he had, was for the love of the game. Today, his reason has changed.

"Through my story, and what happened, I just want people that have gone through, or are going through a tough time in life, whether you got shot, whether you just got out of a bad relationship, you're not doing too good in school, you lost a job, or divorce; whatever the situation is, no matter how bad it is, you can get through it."

And for Garret, it's about taking life one tackle at a time.

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