MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Before February 14, Anthony Borges had a career path sketched out. He and his family say he’d been invited to move to Spain to begin to train to be a professional soccer player. It was a dream come true.
Then came Nikolas Cruz.
Borges sustained 5 gunshots during the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and his world has been turned inside out. Now, 6 months later, CBS 4 News spent an afternoon with Anthony at a physical therapy session at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital U18 Sports Medicine Program in Coral Springs as he undergoes a rigorous physical therapy regimen to rebuild his body. Anthony, just 15 years old, has a singular goal in mind.
“My goal is walking better,” he said. “Run again. Because I want to play soccer. That’s my goal.”
And his goal is not just to play soccer but to play professionally. Anthony’s got skills. A video on social media shows Anthony connecting with a soccer ball around midfield, sending the ball arcing and bending towards the top left corner of a distant goal. Improbably, the ball sneaks past a waiting goalkeeper. Anthony’s face lights up after the shot. He misses the sport terribly.
“Sometimes it make me sad because I can’t play a game,” he said.
Anthony’s dad, Royer, is with his son every step of the way. They are incredibly close. In fact, Royer does at least 60 minutes of therapy with Anthony each morning. As for the soccer career, they’re taking it day by day.
“We don’t know what we’re going to do,” Royer said. “We don’t know what’s going to be next.”
Anthony’s been through a lot. His body sustained 5 bullet wounds in his legs, back and armpit. He’s got a metal rod in the bone of his left thigh and a metal piece in his right leg. He’s undergone 11 surgeries, lost part of a lung and still cannot move the toes on his left foot. But he and his family feel blessed he’s alive.
“It makes me happy because I can see my dad again, my family, my brother, my friends,” he said.
Anthony doesn’t like to think about or talk about what happened at Stoneman Douglas last Valentine’s Day. He’s been hailed a hero for saving more than a dozen students that tragic day on the 3rd floor of the Freshman Building but these are matters he prefers not to discuss. When the time came to return to school this year, Anthony and his family opted for homeschooling.
“I don’t feel safe,” he said. “What if there’s another Nikolas Cruz?”
“He don’t feel comfortable,” he said. “He don’t feel safe. And me, I’m not gonna send to my kid to school so he can get shot again.”
The Borges family filed a lawsuit against Cruz, his deceased mother’s estate, the family that Cruz lived wth at the time of the shooting and several other entities. Royer said he wants to hold those accountable who allowed the shooting to happen and he feels the Broward School District and the Broward Sheriff’s Office failed his son and the other victims. He also wants to know why Cruz, a young man with a documented history of problems, was allowed to remain at Stoneman Douglas.
“Who put that guy in the school?” he said.
As for Anthony, his immediate goals are to build strength in his body, regain his independence and continue putting on weight. He lost 45 pounds after the shooting and he’s gained about half of that back. Despite it all, Anthony maintains his joy of life and he offered his thanks for the staff and therapists at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital and everyone who has donated to help his cause through a Gofundme page. At last check, the donations totaled nearly $900,000.
Anthony’s focus, though, remains on soccer. He recently got to play a little soccer with a player from Manchester United. Video shows him on crutches as he lightly passes the ball back and forth with a player. Anthony promises himself and others that someday he’ll return to the field much as he used to be.
“It will happen,” he said.