THE WOODLANDS, Texas - It's been a trying eight months for Grant Milton and his family.
Back in November, the Woodlands High School football star suffered a traumatic brain injury in a playoff game in Waco.
Grant collapsed during the game, not from a hit, but from something else.
"When got there, I learned that Grant's condition was very unsure, and I was told yes, to say goodbye," said Patty Milton, Grant's mother, who spoke to KHOU 11 News for the first time to TV cameras since the injury.
Thursday was also Grant's 19th birthday.
But even after eight months, Patty Milton is still not sure what exactly happened to her son.
"What Grant is going through is every parent's nightmare," Patty Milton said.
Grant's family moved him to a variety of Houston hospitals for treatment. He event spent time at TIRR. But after months of dealing with the unknown, Grant was well enough to move to a Conroe rehab facility in June, since he no longer needed a full-time hospital environment.
"I like to describe Grant as kind of trapped inside right now," Patty Milton said. "He's all there. He remembers people. He does crazy math problems like usual, but Grant can't communicate right now. I'm so proud of him. He's a hard, hard worker. That's just how he's built."
Grant's hard work inspired an entire community Thursday on his birthday.
Three Chick-fil-A locations in The Woodlands offered $21 chicken nugget trays to honor Grant, who wore No. 21 for the Highlanders.
Blair Adkins' children and several others also did 21 random acts of kindness throughout the day. Adkins is the catering coordinator for these restaurants and is a Woodlands High School graduate.
Patty Milton said the acts comforted her as her son continues to heal.
"He's on a baby step course," she said. "I'll be with him the whole way."
Grant was supposed to graduate from the Woodlands High School in June and then head to Oklahoma this fall.