After Being Shot Twice in Head, Ex-NFL Player Stedman Bailey Says He's a 'Walking Miracle'

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Elaine Aradillas
·4 min read
After Being Shot Twice in Head, Ex-NFL Player Stedman Bailey Says He's a 'Walking Miracle'
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Professional Athletes Who Survived Gun Violence Share Stories of Pain – and Purpose

Four professional athletes (Devereaux Peters, DeAndre’ Bembry, Stedman Bailey, and Diontae Spencer) reveal the horrific moments when gunfire altered their lives — and how they’re working to stop the shootings.

It was the day before Thanksgiving in 2015 and Stedman Bailey sat inside his rented Chevy Tahoe with two young cousins and their father while waiting for a friend.

As he scrolled through his phone looking at his social media, he noticed a car approaching. Within moments, his life would change forever.

"I just started hearing shots ring out — we were in the middle of it, bullets everywhere," the former NFL player, 30, recalls. "There were more than 30 bullets sprayed all over the car. My two little cousins' father, he laid on top of the kids and was struck 11 times."

David Richard/AP/Shutterstock Stedman Bailey

Somehow, his cousins' father survived, and so did he. Bailey was struck twice in the head, which shattered his skull over his eyebrow and ended his career as a wide receiver for the St. Louis Rams.

On Jan. 19, Bailey sat down with three other professional athletes — Devereaux Peters, a now-retired WNBA forward; Diontae Spencer, wide receiver for the NFL's Denver Broncos; and DeAndre' Bembry, shooting guard for the NBA's Toronto Raptors — for an intimate conversation about their personal experiences with gun violence and how it affected them.

The virtual roundtable event, in partnership with PEOPLE and the nonprofit advocacy organization Everytown for Gun Safety, brought the athletes together ahead of National Gun Violence Survivors Week, which runs today through Friday. The athletes are all members of the Everytown Athletic Council, whose members highlight the gun violence crisis, often with very personal stories.

For more on how a group of athletes survived gun violence and now work to combat it, subscribe now to PEOPLE or pick up this week's issue, on newsstands now.

(Watch the full People Features: Gun Violence Survivor Athletes panel above, or streaming now on PeopleTV.com. The discussion was also featured on last Thursday's episode of PEOPLE: (The TV Show!), and the segment appears below.)

Professional Athletes Who Survived Gun Violence Share Stories of Pain — and Purpose

Ahead of National Gun Violence Survivors Week, Feb. 1-7, PEOPLE and Everytown for Gun Safety partnered for a virtual roundtable discussion

Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Sign up for PEOPLE's free True Crime newsletter for breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases.

Nearly 40,000 Americans are killed with guns every year in America — and approximately 85,000 more are shot and wounded, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

RELATED: DeAndre' Bembry Was Drafted into NBA a Week After Brother's Killing, Now Honors Him 'Every Day'

"I'm a walking miracle and I don't take that for granted at all. So, I want to continue to share my story and shed light on what happened to me," says Bailey, who speaks publicly about his experience and encourages young people to make good life choices through his lifestyle brand +Energee.

Top row from left: Elaine Aradillas, Devereaux Peters, Diontae Spencer. Bottom row from left: Stedman Bailey, DeAndre Bembry

After his life-changing moment, he knew he had a decision to make: either feel sorry for himself or celebrate the life he was given despite suffering from PTSD, depression and seizures.

RELATED: Professional Athletes Who Survived Gun Violence Share Stories of Pain — and Purpose

"I look at myself in the mirror and I gain strength from it," he says. "I have a few people that I grew up with over the years that lost their lives due to gun violence. They're not here to share their story, or even have a voice. So I want to stand in the gap for the people who are voiceless now."

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