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Grant Milton's uncle: 'We don't know what's up ahead'

The Woodlands High School football player who suffered a severe brain injury last weekend during a playoff game in Waco is showing slight signs of improvement, according to his family. 

<p>Grant Milton is recovering in a Waco hospital after collapsing on the field during a football game. (Waco PD) </p>

The Woodlands High School football player who suffered a severe brain injury last weekend during a playoff game in Waco is showing slight signs of improvement, according to his family.

"He is still in a comatose state,” said Blake Milton, the Dallas-area uncle of Grant Milton, 18, a star athlete and student at The Woodlands High School in a northern suburb of Houston.

Milton is in intensive care. Doctors had to remove a top right portion of his skull to repair a brain bleed and to allow the brain to swell without causing further damage.

Blake Milton, who was among several family members who rushed to be at Grant’s bedside the night of the injury, loaded up his SUV Friday to join his family again at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center. This time, he’s planning to stay as long as necessary -- hopefully to see his nephew awaken from his coma.

"Absolutely, absolutely,” Milton told News 8, our sister station in Dallas.

Hundreds followed Texans star J.J. Watt&rsquo;s lead and gave money to the family of a Woodlands student seriously hurt playing football.

Grant collapsed on the sidelines last weekend during a regional high school playoff. His family says no specific hit seemed to be the cause. But his uncle says the linebacker suffered concussions before. And the student-athlete had shoulder surgery last year to repair a torn labrum. Blake Milton admits he hoped that surgery would bring an end to his nephew's high-impact sports career.

"A life-affecting injury, as was the shoulder injury, move on into something that's life threatening, that could actually put an end to it all. That's a tragedy beyond words," Milton said. "Right now, we're just taking this one minute at a time. There's plenty of reason for hope. But at the same time, a great mystery looms. We don't know what's up ahead."

Milton said Grant has shown signs of improvement. His heart rate changes when family members talk to him. His eyes react too. Milton believes his nephew, although in a coma, knows that his family is there with him.

In a study of high school and college football, the American Journal of Sports Medicine reports that on average of 12 players die each year. Cardiac failure is the most common cause. Catastrophic brain injury, in 25% of the deaths, is the second leading cause.

"He determined he was not going to play in college for fear of injury, oddly enough,” Milton said. "So it's a real tragedy that it (his high school career) ends with an injury like this that is life threatening."

The Milton family continues its vigil at Grant's bedside in Waco, praying he beats the odds, praying that he wakes up. And praying that all of the star athlete and star student - comes home.

Back in The Woodlands, there's been a huge outpouring of support.

If you would like to help the family with their extensive medical costs:

https://www.gofundme.com/grant-milton-woodlands-21

https://www.caringbridge.org/signin