A flashlight attached to a gun flickered in Louis Nix III’s eyes, blinding him for the moment and startling the former Notre Dame nose guard to the point that the words the two men hovering over him were saying became indiscernible.
All Nix was trying to do was put some air in one of his back tires that he noticed was a little low after finishing his shift Tuesday night at Cintas in his hometown of Jacksonville, Florida. Moments later the 29-year-old was riding in the back of an ambulance to the hospital, having been shot in the chest at a gas station. He shared his story on Instagram that night en route to the hospital. “Right now surgery is pending,” Nix said Friday in a phone call from his hospital bed. “They may leave the bullet inside of me. That’s kind of — ewww — I don’t know how that’ll go, but they say it’s a delicate situation as far as the bullet being in my (left) lung.
“And then I’ve got a fractured sternum, too. My chest hurts. Breathing ain’t the best, but I’m alive. And I’m thankful to be alive.” Nix remained hospitalized Sunday and said doctors still haven’t determined whether it’s safe to do the surgery to remove the bullet from his left lung. They did schedule video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery for Monday to remove old blood from the damaged lung.
“I’m feeling better,” he said Sunday. “I’ve been doing breathing therapy. I just have to take my time, because I just don’t feel normal.
“I’m getting so much support from people, and I really appreciate it. It makes me feel stronger. I had hoped to be home from the hospital by now. I realize now it’s going to be a long road, but I’m up for it.”
He knows he will stride into an uncertain future.
“I know I’ll have a job when I am able to go back to it, if I’m able to go back to it,” Nix said. Nix, self-proclaimed “Irish Chocolate,” played for the Irish from 2010-13, He redshirted as a freshman, then ascended to become a standout on the 2012 team that reached the BCS National Championship Game against Alabama. He battled injuries in 2013, then declared for the draft after the season instead of returning to ND for a fifth year. He was still able to keep a promise to his mom, Stephanie Wingfield, to get his ND degree.