The scars tell a silent story, but Antwan Reeves opened up for the first time Thursday about being shot 11 times as he and his cousin, St. Louis Rams wide receiver Stedman Bailey, were sitting in a car parked outside a Miami Gardens home on the Tuesday night before Thanksgiving.
A car drove by and someone unleashed a barrage of bullets on the car where Reeves and Bailey were sitting, parked outside a house at Northwest 199th Street and 38th Place. Bailey, 25, was shot twice in the head and survived. Reeves, a 39-year-old father of four who shielded two of his children in the back seat, took 11 bullets. There were four in the car.
Reeves managed to drive to Aventura Hospital and Medical Center, where he and Bailey underwent emergency surgery.
On Thursday, Reeves returned to Aventura Hospital and spoke to students from Highland Oaks, Horace Mann, Madison, North Dade and North Miami middle schools. The students were part of the 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project, a dropout prevention program founded by U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Miami, while she was a member of the Miami-Dade School Board.
“I have to get my message to them,” said Reeves, who has two daughters and two sons. “They remind me of my sons. I’ve lived my life. I want to make sure they live to 39 like me. That’s the reason why I had to do this. It was hard being the first time I spoke on it, but it’s just something I had to get through to them.”
More than 100 students, teachers, role models and hospital staff members applauded as a weeping Reeves took the podium, answered questions and even pulled up his shirt to show the handiwork of doctors at Aventura Hospital. After his surgery, Reeves recovered in the hospital for more than 20 days. Bailey was released from the hospital on Dec. 23.
“It was strange seeing someone being shot 11 times and surviving,” said Dr. Mark Cockburn, the center’s medical director of trauma services. “That is very uncommon. But the injuries, if they don’t take your life at the scene when you’ve been shot 11 times, then there is some hope to help someone. He’s fortunate. Every bullet missed critical points. Had one bullet hit a blood vessel, he would not have lived and survived going to the hospital.”
There is too much killing going on. God gave me a second chance at life, and I feel like I have to do something. To talk to the youth … to let them know that enough is enough.
Antwan Reeves, shot 11 times while sitting in a car in Miami Gardens in November
One of the speakers, Queen Brown, knows how fortunate Reeves was. Her son Eviton was shot and killed in 2006.
“This is the only way to make a difference,” Brown said after speaking to the children. “Some of these children probably never get to sit down and hear about people sharing their most intimate and personal feelings. It’s very personal what happened to me. To stand here and admit that my son made a bad decision — it took years. But I want them to know that they matter. Their lives matter and they need to treat it as such.”
The doctors inspired many of the children, including 13-year-old Highland Oaks student Maike Joseph.
“It inspired most of us to be a doctor, to be a surgeon, to be able to save someone’s life,” he said. “I’m sure [Reeves’] kids think of him as a real hero that protected them. He was able to bring his cousin into the hospital to save his life. It’s a miracle.”
“I have two young sons. I’m from Liberty City. I know what’s going on,” Reeves said. “I watch the news. There is too much killing going on. God gave me a second chance at life, and I feel like I have to do something. To talk to the youth … to let them know that enough is enough.
“I never thought I would be doing this. God gave me a reason to be here, and I’m going to make the most of it.”