Virginia shooting survivor Mike Hollins leads the Cavaliers out of the tunnel against Tennessee for their first game since three teammates were killed in 2022
- Hollins was one of two survivors of a shooting that left three teammates dead
- The shootout forced the Cavaliers to cancel their final two games of last season.
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Virginia running back and survivor Mike Hollins led the team out of the tunnel against Tennessee for its first game since the fatal shootout that claimed the lives of three of his teammates.
Hollins, of Baton Rouge, La., was one of two survivors of a shooting last November that claimed the lives of teammates Devin Chandler, D’Sean Perry and Lavel Davis Jr..
He was shot in the back, had to undergo several surgeries and spent a week in hospital before beginning a long rehabilitation.
The shootings, which also injured student Marlee Morgan, shook the team and the community and caused the Cavaliers to cancel their last two games.
Saturday’s game against the Vols marked the team’s first game since the shootout.
Running back and Virginia survivor Mike Hollins led the team out of the tunnel on Saturday
Hollins regained the weight he lost as he recovered from a gunshot wound in hospital
Hollins, playing his first regular season game since last November after his remarkable recovery, led the team on the field with emotion.
Tennessee also joined Virginia for a scheduled minute of silence before kickoff with the Vols wearing a helmet sticker honoring players killed.
Virginia coach Tony Elliott said before the game that every day was a triumph as they entered their second season together.
“Every day that we keep waking up and coming to work, doing our best, is the triumph in all of this,” Elliott said. “And now we have the opportunity, on the national stage, to show how resilient the human spirit is.”
Hollins encouraged his teammates when he returned for spring training four months later, even though he hadn’t yet been cleared for full contact. It happened midway through 15 sessions, and he scored on a one-yard touchdown in the spring game.
He celebrated the touchdown by placing the ball on Perry’s name, painted in the end zone with those of Davis Jr. and Chandler, who were killed on a school bus returning from a trip to Washington, DC.
A former Virginia player, Christopher Jones Jr., is charged in the shooting and is awaiting trial.
Jones Jr., a former UVA football player, has been charged with three counts of second-degree murder along with other charges.
22-year-old Christopher Darnell Jones Jr. (pictured) allegedly killed three members of the football team.
In April, the NFL honored all three victims in the 2023 draft by making them honorary picks.
Ahead of the first selection of the NFL Draft, which saw Bryce Young selected as the No. 1 pick, commissioner Roger Goodell ceremonially drafted Chandler, Davis Jr. and Perry.
The trio were on a bus returning from a school trip when Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., a member of the Virginia Cavaliers football team in 2018, opened fire as the group arrived on campus.
Goodell presented Davis’ family with a Ravens jersey, Perry with a Dolphins jersey and Chandler with a Jaguars jersey, posing for photos with each.