Family pushes for Georgia to pass youth concussion law
ATLANTA (CBS46) -
A bill to protect young athletes has it strongest chance yet to be passed this year. The 'Return to Play Act of 2013' would require public and private schools to establish a concussion policy. Georgia is one of only six states without a youth concussion law. One family is pushing hard for it to be passed.
Jonathan Barnett, or JB as he likes to be called, loves sports.
"Just running out there and getting a pass," Barnett said.
That's the way JB spends some of his time, throwing passes with his step-dad Ricky Gipson. His mom, Vickie Gipson, fondly recalls her son's younger years.
"He was a bundle of energy at the time he was born," Vickie Gipson said.
JB was good at everything.
"He was a three-sport athlete. Football, wrestling and baseball. His hands were so good they wanted him to be a receiver. Anything they threw to him - football or baseball- he could catch," Ricky Gipson said.
So you can imagine his parents pride when JB made his first touchdown. They could not have prepared for what happened immediately after.
"As he was getting off the ground a young man came and did an earhole hit. He staggered around. He fell down and got back up. He walked off the field walking sideways," Ricky Gipson said.
"I knew was hurt, I just didn't know to what extent," Vickie Gipson said.
The JB they knew never returned.
"As a mother you know your child, and the behavior I saw with him was not him, because he had always had such a love for life, from sports to whatever he did. He did with so much gusto," Vickie Gipson said.
The concussion sidelined JB in 2005. Roughly a year and a half later, JB was diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury. And just two months after that, in March 2007, the Gipson's faced another unimaginable situation while at church.
"I overheard a boy say, 'JB just shot himself.' Instantly my heart just stopped," Vickie Gipson said.
"In my heart I thought he was gone. Well he gurgled and when he did, I got in his face and I saw it was Jonathan. And you ask about feelings. Someone couldn't cut you open and make you feel no emptier," Ricky Gipson said.
Doctors told the Gipson's JB would not survive the injury.
"They told us within four to six hours he would die, the brain would herniated and he would be gone and after that six hours, it was any minute and any hour," Vickie Gipson said.
JB defied the odds.
"I shot myself. I don't know why," Barnett said.
JB said he wasn't himself after the concussion.
"It made me feel sad. I was confused. I couldn't be in the lunchroom with everyone," Barnett said.
And now, his life is dramatically different.
"Most of the time it's his bedroom and DVDs. Watching movies is what he lives to do," Ricky Gipson said.
"I lost the Jonathan that I knew. I thank God everyday for what I've got, but I don't have the same kid," Vickie Gipson said.
It all goes back to one concussion.
"One concussion, one child hitting another child playing a game. No money involved, just playing a game," Ricky Gipson said.
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