LOUISVILLE, Ky. — This Saturday, the senior class of Pleasure Ridge Park High School in Louisville will celebrate their graduation.
Among them will be Justin Caudell, who survived a shooting and even made it back to the soccer pitch.
“I look at it way differently. Because if none of this never happened, I think I would still be goofing around, but now I take ... life more serious now,” he said. “Tomorrow ain’t promised for some people and anything can happen.”
His mom, Terra, said she tries not to think about the day in Dec. 2021 when Justin called her after leaving a basketball game to say he’d been shot in a random drive-by shooting.
“When I finally met with him, they was [sic] pulling him around the ambulance and he was face down, one of his shoes was off, and I was like, ‘Justin, talk to me, talk to me,’” she recalled. “He didn’t say anything at first.”
Justin endured three months in the hospital and three surgeries after the bullet ricocheted through his abdomen, she said.
He was determined to get back to school and back to the soccer field, with help from the community around him.
“I felt so good when I got on that field,” said Justin. “It was just a crazy feeling. I was like, so happy to be back out there with my friends and everything, thinking I wasn’t going to be out there again, so it was a good feeling.”
Terra said it will be overwhelming to watch him walk the stage at graduation, knowing the struggle he went through to get there.
“He’s like, ‘I got this. I can do this,’” she said. “And I’m so happy that he has that mind frame ... Can’t nobody choose your destiny, and ... his destiny is to move on and go to college.”
As for the next chapter, Justin said better things are to come.
“I’m ready for it to start right now,” he said.
Justin was also able to run track after recovering from the shooting. He said he’s physically ready for anything and has not yet decided on a college.