Blair Holliday, seen here with his mother, Leslie, will return to Duke as an employee this semester. Credit: CHUCK LIDDY
Before the start of the spring semester, Blair Holliday's application to return to Duke was denied, and his next move was unclear. Now, he has returned to Durham and is working with the school to take the next step in his recovery process.
Holliday was at the Duke football banquet Friday night, and he is back living in Durham, Leslie Holliday, his mother, said. The school is working to find him a job for the semester, possibly in the athletic department.
"He'll fill out an application, and they will place him where they feel it's appropriate," Leslie Holliday said.
Holliday could have elected to stay at home and worth with the basketball team at the Buckley School, a private high school in Sherman Oaks, Calif., just outside of Los Angeles. He had other options as well, Leslie Holliday said, and Blair made the final decision to return to Duke.
"We left it up to him, and he decided he wanted to go back to Duke and be back around his friends," Leslie Holliday said. "He also wants to prepare for taking classes during the summer."
Holliday, a sophomore, was projected to start at wide receiver for Duke this season, but a near-fatal July 4 accident changed that plan. He pulled unconscious from the waters of Lake Tillery on after teammate Jamison Crowder accidently hit him while the two were riding jet skis. Crowder suffered no major injuries, but Holliday was airlifted to UNC Trauma Center in Chapel Hill. He had severe head injuries, including a broken jaw, and was nonresponsive. Slowly, his condition improved, and he has regained the ability to walk and talk and graduated from inpatient and outpatient therapy at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta.
Holliday made his first return to Duke for the Sept. 15 North Carolina Central football game, and he was a fixture on the Duke sidelines at every following home game. He also made the trip to Charlotte for the Belk Bowl, where Duke lost 48-34 to Cincinnati to cap a 6-7 season.
He had hoped to return to Duke as a student for the spring semester, but his application was denied. The family wasn't expecting the rejection, Leslie Holliday said, and that they were "disappointed." A Duke rule states that students on a medical leave, like Holliday, must wait two semesters before returning.
"We received a letter that application not been accepted, and we never received an explanation," Leslie Holliday said. "We followed the process mapped out for us by the school. But what we decided to do was focus on everything positive that happened in 2012. Blair is still with us, and we were able to celebrate his 20th birthday in December."