14-year-old metro Atlanta football player left in wheelchair after accident at practice

SANDY SPRINGS, Ga. — A 14-year-old metro Atlanta football player is now in a wheelchair after he was injured during a practice.

Channel 2′s Tyisha Fernandes was in Sandy Springs, where she talked to Kavion Coleman’s mother, who had a message for young football players.

Joelisa Harkins said she’s been holding back tears when it comes to her son’s injury, which he sustained during a practice last month.

“He was doing a one-on-one drill with another player and he wound up getting into a head-to-head collision. Helmet-to-helmet is what they call it,” Harkins said. “When he fell, he limped to his right side. When the coach went to touch him, he couldn’t feel nothing.”

[DOWNLOAD: Free WSB-TV News app for alerts as news breaks]

Since then, Kavion has made some progress and can now feel his toes, one arm and his shoulders, but he still has a long way to go.

Harkins says she’s been trying to be strong for her son, who is now bound to a wheelchair.

“At first, I was down, but I never showed my pain,” she told Fernandes through tears.

Kavion was rushed to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta in Sandy Springs after the accident and has been working hard since to walk again.

“Showing progress...and he’s seeing it, it lifts up his spirits,” Harkins said.


Marcus Coleman has been a youth football coach for years and says the game has changed because kids have changed.

“Children are getting faster, stronger and larger,” Coleman explained to Fernandes. “It’s a rough game.”

Coleman says players have to play with more caution.

“Parents need to make sure they’re vigilant and they’re present to see what these coaches are doing and speak up when they don’t like what they see,” he said.

[SIGN UP: WSB-TV Daily Headlines Newsletter]

Harkins had a message for kids playing football across metro Atlanta.

“Please don’t, do not drop y’all’s heads because you don’t want to wind up in the hospital,” she said.

Kavion says this is not the end of his football career. He says he will walk and play again one day.