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UPDATE: Logan Coaching Legend Returns Home After Accident

By: Associated Press; Andrew Colegrove, Jennifer Rizzi Email
By: Associated Press; Andrew Colegrove, Jennifer Rizzi Email

UPDATE 4/17/13 @ 10 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) --It was a homecoming marked by generous tears of joy and heartfelt prayers of thanks.

Coaching legend Willie Akers walked back into his Logan County home Friday after being told he might never walk again.

"It's been work, work, work," he said. "Hold your head up, hold your head up."

Now he's defying the odds with the same strength of spirit that made him a college basketball hero and a star coach.

Akers spent more than three months in Atlanta recovering from a crippling cervical fracture, all after he tripped and fell at his grandson's Logan Middle School basketball game.

"It was such a freak accident," his wife Linda said. "In the blink of an eye, you know, you just about lose everything."

Akers, 75, is also a Logan County commissioner. He says rehabilitation is a long, ongoing process.

"Several times I struggled with what they wanted me to do, but I'd get up and do it," he said.

Now, he's taking each step with diligence and determination - fighting not just for himself, but for the loved ones who never left his side.

"I get a little emotional," he said between tears. "Because really, these are your true friends."

Linda says she's just happy to have him back home.

"You realize after so many years what real love is all about," she said.

Akers played with Jerry West on the team that helped lead WVU to the NCAA finals in 1959 and later coached Logan to four state championships.

UPDATE 2/13/13 @ 10 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A community is coming together for a well-known commissioner, coach and friend.

Logan County Commissioner, and former Logan High School basketball coach, Willie Akers is in the ICU at CAMC after a bad fall Wednesday.

Akers’ family says the 75-year-old tripped, fell and hit his head at the Charleston Civic Center while walking onto the court following a Logan Middle School basketball game.

Akers suffered a cervical fracture in the neck. He was being kept on a ventilator as a precaution.

Family members also say he is in critical but stable condition and is expected to be okay. They say he has full movement in his arms and legs.

"Coach Akers' grandson got to play, and they got a big win,” current Logan High School basketball coach Mark Hatcher said. “Then the accident happened. It gripped the whole heart of our town and our community. It's been a very emotional day."

Akers played with Jerry West on the team that helped lead WVU to the NCAA finals in 1959 and later coached Logan to four state championships.

At Wednesday night's Logan High School basketball game in Charleston, a moment of silence was held for Akers before the game.

Former player Steve Browning talked about what Akers means to the town.

"He's just one of the strongest pillars I’ve ever known," Browning said. “He's been a vital influence in my life but also countless young men in Logan County."

Akers will be undergoing an MRI Thursday. His son Chad Akers says the family is extremely grateful for the outpouring of support and prayer they've had from the community as his father recovers.



ORIGINAL STORY
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) -- A family member says West Virginia high school coaching legend Willie Akers has been hospitalized after a fall.

Akers' son, Chad, said his father was taken to Charleston Area Medical Center for treatment of a fractured vertebrae and broken nose. A hospital operator said he was under evaluation Wednesday evening.

The Charleston Daily Mail (http://bit.ly/X5WenW) reports the 75-year-old Akers stumbled on the basketball court at the Charleston Civic Center.

Akers was a teammate of Jerry West's at West Virginia University from 1958-60. Akers later coached the Logan High School boys basketball team to four Class AAA state championships.

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