A Calif. baseball player who was brutally beaten in what police have called a “gang initiation” earlier this month surprised teammates Tuesday by throwing out the first pitch at their game.
Evan Jimenez, a 15 year-old freshman and member of the San Pedro (Calif.) junior varsity baseball team, suffered brain swelling and a broken jaw after two men confronted him in an alleyway while he walked home from a game with a female friend. According to investigators, the assailants smashed a liquor bottle over Jimenez’s head and proceeded to pummel him.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Jimenez was heavily sedated and remained unconscious for several days after the attack, but he was finally released from the hospital on April 22.
“He’s moving forward every day. Always has a smile on his face, so hopefully it just progresses more and more,” Jimenez family friend Tammy Meyers told the Los Angeles Times.
On Tuesday, as his team prepared to take on Banning, Jimenez surprised his friends and teammates by taking to the diamond and throwing out the first pitch,
“I feel blessed and amazed,” Evan told Los Angeles’ KNBC-TV.
Family members told KNBC that the idea to surprise his teammates, who had earlier dedicated the season to their friend and had visited him at the hospital, was all Evan’s.
“It’s just a blessing. He’s a miracle,” Charlene Douthit, Evan’s mom, told KNBC. “It’s a beautiful thing for him to come here and do the first pitch, surprise his team.”
Meyers told the Times that Jimenez does not remember the assault and that he was told about it last week while in recovery.
Jimenez still suffers from some short-term memory loss and has extensive physical therapy ahead, but is hopeful he will make a full recovery.
“I want to tell everyone thank you for all your prayers and support,” Jimenez told KNBC.
A GoFundMe page to help raise money for Jimenez’s medical expenses has raised over $143,000.