“I’m just grateful to be sitting here in this gym, about to play the sport I love,” she said prior to her varsity game against Lake County.
Six months ago she was in a different seat.
“I made sure nothing conflicted with the midnight showing,” she said.
She is referring to the midnight showing at the Aurora theater on July 20, 2012.
McKayla was sitting in theater 8. About 20 minutes in to the film, something starting happening next door in theater 9.
“I heard these shots, probably three or four shots that I heard and I felt my face get hit right here on my right side. And then immediately I cupped my hands like this under my mouth and I saw blood and I held one of my bottom teeth in my hand,” Hicks said.
A bullet had come through the wall and hit McKayla in the face.
“When I got up to leave my theater – not seeing anyone else move was confusing because I thought I was the only one affected, but then I exited through the emergency exit and I saw other victims coming out,” she said. “So that was confusing to know where this guy was or whoever the shooter was and it was just really scary to know you could run into him at any time.”
McKayla was one of the victims taken to the hospital in a squad car. She had damage to her teeth, gums, and nerves. The bullet remained lodged in her chin for more than a month.
“You could feel it if you touched my face. You could feel it poking but it never had any impact on me except a constant reminder,” she said.
Somehow she has stayed strong through all of this.
“She’s never let it bother her,” said her dad, Greg, who has some stronger emotions.
“I wanted to kill the guy on the spot,” he said. “They came in and told me they had him in custody and I was upset because they should have just shot him.”
“It does affect my life every day, biting in to food, having to have braces again,” McKayla said.
Having been to the court proceedings, McKayla has seen families grieving and knows it could have been so much worse.
“The fact that I got a couple of teeth to replace means a lot rather than replacing one of my best friends or a family member,” she said. “Just that I can still shoot, run, scream, cheer, everything. It makes you look at life in a different perspective. It makes you realize some of the troubles you go through probably aren’t as bad as the troubles others are going through.”
She made sure to still do her favorite things, like basketball or going to the movies.
McKayla wasn’t going to miss seeing The Dark Knight in theaters. Less than two weeks after being shot, she went back and saw it.
“I’m not going to let him stop me from living my life, or going back to a movie theater or anything,” she said, “Because he doesn’t have any control over me what so ever.”