CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — University of Virginia running back Mike Hollins joined his teammates Tuesday for their first spring practice since the tragic shooting that took the lives of three football players in November.
"Just to watch how he's attacked everything, could easily have made excuses, easily have overthought things, but he's taking it upon himself to respond and show perseverance and be resilient," coach Tony Elliott said to ESPN. "I think a lot of it is for himself, but the majority of it is for his teammates. There was a time when we didn't know if he'd ever have the chance to play football again. I'm just grateful to be on the grass, grateful to have an opportunity to be here at the University of Virginia and lead this program, lead these young men, all the guys that decided to come back and pick up the pieces and turn this tragedy into a triumph."
Hollins was one of two survivors of the shooting that took place four months ago when students returned to UVA grounds on a charter bus after a trip to Washington, D.C. He was shot in the back and made a remarkable recovery after spending a week in the hospital.
Lavel Davis Jr., Devin Chandler and D'Sean Perry were killed in the tragedy. Another student, Marlee Morgan, was also shot but survived.
Another UVA student and former member of the football team, Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., has been charged with three counts of second-degree murder and the use of a firearm in the commission of a felony. He was also charged with two counts of malicious wounding and additional gun charges related to shooting Hollins and Morgan.
According to ESPN, kicker Will Bettridge has changed his number to Perry's No. 41 as a way to honor him. The two were teammates in high school.
Elliott told ESPN there will be other opportunities throughout the year to keep honoring Davis, Perry and Chandler.
"As I told the guys, we're not moving on, but we do have a responsibility to move forward," Elliott said to ESPN. "We believe that the spirits and the legacies of the three men that we lost would want us to move forward. But there's going to be some times where there's going to be some emotional milestones that we're going to have to get through.