'I was numb': South Greene football player recounts injury during recovery

GREENE COUNTY, TN (WJHL) - A Tri-Cities region high school athlete is still recovering from a serious spinal cord injury last Friday night.

The McGhee family of Greeneville tell News Channel 11 that doctors said their son Anthony, or Peanut's, injury was nearly one-inch from paralyzing him.

"I'm used to seeing him get back up from a hit like that," Peanut's brother Brandon McGhee said.

Brandon and his mom Nickie were watching Peanut play from the stands.

"He went for his legs and whenever he hit the ground his head snapped back. You know I was just thinking in my mind you know, Peanut get up," Brandon said.

But Peanut couldn't get up. Brandon and his mother rushed to help.

"My whole right side of my body was numb," Peanut McGhee said.

Family members say an MRI and spinal testing showed a tear in the base of his neck, and rip in his spinal cord.

"We're very close and seeing my brother not get back up like that, it stunned me," Brandon McGhee said.

Football runs in the family for the McGhee's, they still have old jerseys, they even still have his jersey from Friday night that first responders had to tear to help him.

"Football is their life, it's been his brother's life, it's been Peanut's life and they just wanted to always play together," Nickie Landers said.

He's been on and off the field for years after being diagnosed with Epilepsy, but two years ago he was cleared to play.

That was an emotional time for he and his family. Doctors are now saying he can't get hit in the head again, or he could be paralyzed.

"It just hurts me that I can't play anymore," Peanut McGhee said.

Peanut added that he feels God did this for a reason and he's grateful his injury wasn't worse.

"I'm just glad I'm walking towards my family, my teachers then wheel chairing towards them," Peanut McGhee said.

Landers said she loves watching her boys play but, "football is a very dangerous sport, I pray that everything goes well," she said.

The McGhee's all say they're grateful for the prayers from the community. They tell us that South Greene High School's Principal Dr. Cindy Bowman visited Peanut in the hospital, as well as his football coaches and coaches from the opposing team that night, West Greene High School.

Landers and Peanut's step dad Chris added that they wished EMS units were already on standby during the game and it took them 20-25 minutes to arrive after Peanut's injury.

Peanut is continuing to go to school and he tells us he hopes to go to college and one day become a coach.

Peanut McGhee will be in that neck brace for at least 2 months but he plans to be at all the games, even practices and scrimmages for the rest of the season.

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