Report from Louisiana: I Believe in Miracles

By:  Pat Austin

Kaalas Roots after graduating with honors, May 18, 2019. (Photo used with permission from Rashad Johnson/KSLA News).

BOSSIER CITY – This is what a miracle looks like. 

I’m a pretty private person with regard to religion – it’s just how I was raised, but I know what a miracle looks like when I see one.

Kaalas Roots.

This young man was a student in my tenth grade English class two years ago.  Our school has an enrollment of about 650 students and so it has been easy to keep up with Kaalas, to watch him grow, to excel in academics, and on the basketball court.

Kaalas was a standout, amazing player to watch and with his GPA, he was absolutely on track to receive both academic and athletic scholarships. Scouts were at games watching his grace, agility, and skill on the basketball court.

In the classroom and in the halls, Kaalas has a soft voice, a gentle demeanor, and a respectful manner. 

On March 28, 2019, Kaalas was leaving a basketball practice session for an exhibition game and was critically injured in a head-on collision.  Pictures of the car he was driving will turn your stomach; it is a mass of tangled metal. How could anyone survive that?  How?!

Kaalas suffered a traumatic brain injury that left him unable to walk, talk, feed himself, everything.  He would have to relearn everything. He was in ICU for just over two weeks in Shreveport, then was transferred to Touro Hospital in New Orleans for intensive therapy and rehabilitation.  Bossier High School set up a fund for donations because so many people were calling to help Kaalas, including Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott.

Yesterday, Kaalas walked across the stage at his high school graduation and received a fist bump, a hug, and a diploma from principal David Thrash.  Kaalas walked off the stage, pumping his arm in victory.  His daddy was on the right side of the stage to assist Kaalas in climbing the steps and his mother was jumping up and down at the bottom of the stairs on the left side of the stage to help him climb down. 

There was not a dry eye in the place. 

It was the most emotional thing I’ve ever seen.  Backstage, before the ceremony, Kaalas and his family arrived with Kaalas in his wheelchair. He took photos with his teammates, hugged his teachers, and received his honor cords. He was all smiles. 

And he walked across that stage on his own when just a few weeks ago that was difficult to imagine.

After the ceremony he walked out into the parking lot with his family and into a throng of media.

Be sure to watch this video of Kaalas’s story made by one of our local news reporters, Rashad Johnson with KSLA News.

I have no doubt that there is a higher power at work in this man’s life.  Kaalas is an inspiration. 

He still has a long road to go and rehab will be ongoing for a long time. But this young man has a bright future.  He is a miracle.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport and is the author of Cane River Bohemia.  Follow her on Instagram @patbecker25 and Twitter @paustin110.