A long shot to live, now Tyler Burton is walking

VANCOUVER, Wash. -- Doctors didn't expect him to live.

But today, Tyler Burton is walking again after agonizing intensive daily therapy for four months at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center.

The 21-year-old Vancouver native - once a football star - suffered a crippling brain injury after being punched last October while in college in California. Police arrested a suspect in the case.

Following the attack, Burton couldn't walk, chew, swallow or even breathe on his own.

Burton wanted to share his recovery on air Monday with a KATU reporter.

"I feel like I'm the same me in a broken body, but getting better," Burton said.

His body used to be the opposite of broken. He was a tough, disciplined, popular football player at Mountain View High School. After he graduated in 2010, he attended Shasta College in Redding, Calif., to play football.

One punch in face put him here.

"I always tell my patients, 'We can show you the path, but you have to come ready to walk it," said Tim Hughes, Burton's physical therapist.

Burton said he still hopes to play football again someday, perhaps next fall. While doctors admit that seems like a stretch, they say it's a mystery how quickly he's improved already.

Of his recovery, Burton said: "I'm not going to walk out of here. I'm going to run."