Students, Miami Heat surprise South Dade principal injured by drunk driver

SOUTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - Several South Dade High School students surprised Principal Javier Perez at the hospital, Thursday, nearly eight months after a drunk driver struck him.

Perez lost his legs in April when the drunk driver hit him while he was at his son’s baseball game. He continues to recover, and on Thursday he was scheduled for one of his rehab sessions, which he has three times each week, at Baptist Hospital.

Instead, he walked in to find a group of his students, his family and Miami Heat legend Alonzo Mourning.

“I’ve received many emails, letters, messages from them but as far as seeing a large group like this, I haven’t,” Perez said. “It’s overwhelming.”

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“My name is Alonzo Mourning, if you did not know,” Mourning joked.

Mourning and Burnie the mascot presented Perez with a watch, a personalized Heat jersey, tickets to a Heat game and $7,500 to go towards his medical bills.

Mourning lost a kidney during the middle of his Hall of Fame career due to disease. But a successful transplant led to a an improbable comeback and an NBA championship.

“I’m very grateful and thankful for all the people that helped me get through my obstacles that I’ve had to face in my life, and I’m sure Principal Perez can identify individuals that helped lift him up,” Mourning said.

“He puts his soul and his whole heart to this school. He’s always connected with the students,” Roxana Bado said.

Perez hopes to start walking by June.

“In January, we start the prosthetics process, and by June hopefully, I’ll be walking,” Perez said. “That’s the goal.”

Perez will be honored at American Airlines arena, on Dec. 22, when the Heat host the Los Angeles Lakers.

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