“I’m going to run until I get tired, and I’m not coming out until coach says to come out. I’ll run until they pull me out, even if I’m tired.”
These were the last words that Florida A&M running back Lavante Page told The Famuan in a post-game interview following the 2009 season opener at Bragg Memorial Stadium.
Moments later, shots rang outside the stadium leaving Page with a bullet hole through his left elbow which prematurely ended what promised to be a productive season.
Saturday, after FAMU’s annual Orange and Green spring game, Page recalled the events of that night.
“It was a regular day. I played the game and thought everything was cool. I felt good,” he said. “I was walking and talking to my family. Next thing you know, I just felt something hit me in my arm and it was so quick that you don’t even have time to react to it.”
Page was struck by a stray bullet that stemmed from a violent altercation that ensued in the parking lot next to Gibbs Hall, which is located directly across the street from where the game took place.
A 14-year-old relative accompanying him was grazed in the face and another innocent bystander was shot in the leg.
“It was devastating,” said Florida A&M running backs coach Aaron Taylor.
Taylor said he was stunned to hear about the shooting.
“My first reaction when I heard about it was, ‘Is he okay?’ As a coach it’s something that you never want to go through but you’re just happy that we can sit here and talk about it,” Taylor said.
Page had to endure a long, tedious rehabilitation process.
The process took several months and was prolonged because of nerve damaged suffered in the arm.
“I had therapy about three or four times a week. It’s really more mental because a lot of people would give up. It’s so hard to keep up with everything. It was a long process but it’s almost over,” Page said. “After I got shot, I had to recuperate with God. It was hard to take that I was going to miss the whole season but I kind of accepted it because I could’ve been dead.”
The focus this spring is on knocking off the rust that has accumulated while he has been out of action.
He began 2009 as the starting running back while Philip Sylvester, the previous season’s starter, nursed an injury he sustained in camp prior to the start of the season.
The Rattlers went up against Delaware State University in Page’s last game before sustaining his injury. Page ran for 61 yards, a touchdown and also had three receptions for 32 yards.
On Saturday, his first game-time action since the incident, Page’s first carry went for eight yards. He scored on a short run on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Head coach Joe Taylor said he appreciates the progress Page has made to “get back in the groove,” but expects him to continue to improve.