”I definitely feel like I have a chance to step back on the field and be able to continue playing football,” Bailey said at the conclusion of the Rams’ second week of voluntary offseason practices. Stedman Bailey is a model of grit, luck, or a lot of both considering that on Nov. 24th of last year, he was shot two times in the head while waiting in a car with family back home in Miami.
It actually took six hours of surgery and a medically induced coma to save his life. Since then, he has been working relentlessly on his recovery and remains optimistic yet cautious regarding his health: ”I’ve always been a guy to kind of be able to avoid hits,” Bailey said. ”But I know sometimes things happen, and it’s not really in my best interest to be taking some hard hits right now. I’ve still got to let my skull and let my brain heal up a little bit.”
Earlier this week, he was placed on the reserve non-football injury list and has been provided with a role assisting receivers and special teams coaches, though he still runs with teammates and catches passes after practice concludes upon occasion. The fact remains, however, that he was released by the team as a player and did clear waivers, so his playing career may in fact be behind him.
Regardless of the obvious, Bailey keeps it all in perspective: ”I’m able to wake up every day and smile,” Bailey said. ”Like Coach (Fisher) said, I’m very lucky to still be alive. I went through a whole lot. Just the fact that I’m not able to be out here and actually be playing football right now has been the toughest part, but I’ve got so many things to be grateful about that I’m able to overlook those things and just smile, because I’m still here.”
A third-round draft pick for the Rams in 2013, Bailey left West Virginia University with the school’s second-highest number of receptions: 210. He racked up 17 receptions while playing in all of his team’s games during his rookie campaign, then had another 30 receptions (one for a touchdown) last year. Bailey had 12 catches — including a 68-yarder for a touchdown — in the first half of this season before the NFL suspended him for four games for violating its substance abuse policy.
In the midst of the suspension, he was sitting in a car with his cousin, Antwan Reeves, and two small children when gunfire exploded into their vehicle at around 8:45 PM the night of November 24th last year.
“At the time, my cousin looked at me and said, ‘Yo, cuz, they shot you in the head,'” Bailey said. “And for a while, I couldn’t really feel any pain or anything, so I was just like, ‘Oh, man.’ When I looked down at my shirt and saw that blood was dripping off my face, I felt at that point that things were pretty real.”
Reeves told WSVN that “I was hit 11 times.”
Amazingly, Reeves drove himself and Bailey to the hospital where they both underwent surgery. Reeves was released from the hospital later that week while Bailey had to wait until Dec. 23. By Dec 16th, he was already tweeting about his jogs around the hospital, and a few days later was visited by some of his LA Rams teammates.