In a building full of NFL players, the toughest football players might have been two kids watching from the sideline.
While the Seahawks went through Organized Team Activities Monday, among those watching were Sam Mix, a 19-year-old Skyline High School graduate and his friend Sam Taylor. Mix, a freshman receiver on the University of Montana-Northern football team last fall, was stabbed 43 times in a Havre, Montana apartment, one of three victims in a home-invasion attack last month. Mix brought with him to practice 11-year-old Taylor, a longtime family friend who Mix says is his inspiration. Taylor, a running back on his youth team, was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor in December and is currently undergoing weekly chemotherapy treatments at Children's Hospital.
"The hospitality has been awesome," Mix said of the visit. "It's obviously a cool opportunity to do stuff like this; I haven't experienced anything like this before. It's been awesome so far."
Mix is back home recovering and is in remarkably good spirits given what he went through less than a month ago. He is awaiting surgery next month to reconnect his the bicep and deltoid in his left arm as well as nerves in the arm, which will determine more about his long-term outlook, but he says he is otherwise mostly recovered. When he got a chance to attend Seahawks practice, one of his first thoughts was to bring Taylor along.
"I've been praying for him for a long time, and when this happened to me we kind of started doing this kind of stuff together," Mix said. "We both have a lot of time on our hands."
Mix is able to matter-of-factly talk about the attack, describing how he tried to fight the intruder until he collapsed after being stabbed in the lung, and how he blacked out while being stabbed repeatedly in the back, and he even chuckled when he says of losing the use of his thumb, the result of a knife going through his hand, "so that's too bad."
"When you talk about it and say you got stabbed 45 times or whatever, people freak out," Mix continues. "At the time it was just a really unfortunate event. Obviously you always hear about crazy instances and that there's bad people in the world and stuff like that, but until you really experience it, you haven't experienced it."
Mix won't know until after his surgery if he'll be able to play football again, and even if the operation is a success, it can take 18 to 24 months for nerve function to fully return. His bigger concern right now, however, isn't for himself, but rather for friend Taylor Woolman, who was stabbed in the head and is partially paralyzed.
"They do expect a full recovery, so once she gets all healed up, I'll be good to go," Mix said. "I don't relive it or anything like that. Once she's healed up, I'll be 100 percent back on track… Obviously I'm really thankful to be alive. Last thing I remembered, I didn't know if I was going to make it at all."
While Mix waits for good news about his friend, and for what he hopes will be his final surgery, he and Taylor are making the most of their free time, which on Monday meant an up-close view of Seahawks practice.
Skyline graduate Sam Mix, who is recovering from stabbing, and friend Sam Taylor, who is fighting a brain tumor, visited Seahawks practice Monday.