JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Just six months after he was shot more than a dozen times, Jaguars Richard Collier expressed his gratitude to the Florida-Georgia Blood Alliance at a donor appreciation dinner.
According to police, Tyrone Hartsfield opened fire on Collier's SUV outside a Riverside apartment building last September.
Collier lost his leg and is paralyzed from the waist down, but at Thursday's event he said he wouldn't even be alive if it weren't for generous blood donors.
"It was hard to deal with being a super athlete," Collier said. "I'm powerful, regardless, I'm always powerful. I've lost a lot, but I've gained a lot of knowledge. My strength comes from more than just the physical."
After being shot 14 times, Collier needed more than 10 units of blood to survive. At the Florida-Georgia Blood Alliance \ donor appreciation dinner, he spoke before a packed crowd to honor those who've donated multiple gallons of blood throughout the years.
Collier said he wanted to show his appreciation to the donors face to face.
"From the bottom of my heart, thanks. You guys saved my life," Collier said.
Although the once-365-pound lineman admitted he is not a fan of needles, he said his experience has changed his perspective on blood donation.
"It's like you're giving life to people. So, I would recommend anybody who gets a bit squeamish to just suck it up and donate blood because it's really saving lives," Collier said.
Collier said in the beginning of his recovery he couldn't even dress himself or sit up on his own. That has changed.
"I can pretty much do what I want to except getting up and running. I get in my chair, cook myself breakfast. I'm doing everything on my own now, and that's what I want to do. I wanted to get back to being independent as soon as possible," Collier said.
When asked about the night that changed his life and sidelined his NFL career, Collier hesitated a bit.
"I'm just hoping justice will be served. I don't really like to get into the case that much. I'm just hoping at the end of the case I'll be satisfied. I'm really trying to put it all behind me," Collier said.
Collier's accused shooter is expected to be back in court on Friday for a motions hearing that could affect whether the trial will start on Monday.
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