Former Atlanta Braves player ‘grateful’ for son’s recovery after life-threatening injury

Keith Lockhart of the Atlanta Braves throws to base during game one of the National League Division Series against the San Francisco Giants at Turner Field in Atlanta, Georgia on October 2, 2002. The Giants defeated the Braves 8-5, giving them the first win in the five-game series.  (Photo by Jamie Squire /Getty Images)

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Keith Lockhart of the Atlanta Braves throws to base during game one of the National League Division Series against the San Francisco Giants at Turner Field in Atlanta, Georgia on October 2, 2002. The Giants defeated the Braves 8-5, giving them the first win in the five-game series. (Photo by Jamie Squire /Getty Images)

The father of a teen hit in the face by a baseball says he and the rest of his family are grateful for the outpouring of prayers from friends and the community.

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Former Atlanta Braves player Keith Lockhart was at his son’s baseball game on June 17 when his son, Jason, was hit in the face by a ball.

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The 15-year-old was initially taken to the hospital with a nose injury, but later was hospitalized with much more serious injuries. At one point, he was put on life support.

After weeks on the mend, Jason walked out of the hospital on Sunday.

The family had no idea the injury would turn out to be life-threatening.

During a long career in major league baseball, Lockhart has watched a lot of players fight through serious injuries.

He never thought one of them would be his own son.

"I was sitting behind home plate,” Lockhart said. “I saw the play. It was a passed ball. He ran home just like he was supposed to. The pitcher wasn't covering so he went in standing up.

"You know, you hear it smack,” he said. “So I knew it got him in the face, and he kind of bent over. And you saw the blood from the stands."

What at first appeared to be only a broken nose turned out to be a torn artery and what could have been life-threatening bleeding.

Just short of a month ago, Jason ended up on life support.

But after 21 days in the hospital and seven surgeries, he is home, and his father says his son can't wait to get back on the field.

"The doctor's real clear that it wasn't a mom and dad decision, or even his decision, but it'll be more up to them,” Lockhart said.

Jason is getting better day by day and should be well enough to return to school when it starts next month.

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