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Bills' Everett walking on his own, in and out of rehab

Kevin Everett is walking on his own at a Houston rehab center, the latest significant progress by the Buffalo Bills tight end in his remarkable recovery from a serious spinal cord injury.

"He doesn't have a full natural stride but, yeah, he's walking," a person close to the family told The Associated Press on Friday. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of Everett's status.

The person said Everett has been walking under his own power since his release from Memorial Hermann/TIRR three weeks ago and is now an outpatient there. The person added Everett is picked up at his Houston-area home by car to attend daily rehab sessions and is able to walk to and from the facility.

"He's not driving or anything like that, but he is walking. He's not running. He is walking," the person said.

Doctors initially feared Everett would never walk again after what was described as a life-threatening injury while making a tackle in the Sept. 9 season opener against Denver. He was paralyzed from the neck down when he arrived at Buffalo's Millard Fillmore Gates Hospital and spent the first few days on life support.

The prognosis was far more positive a few days later when Everett showed movement in both his legs and arms and was sensitive to touch. He improved so steadily during his first two weeks he was transferred to Houston for the next stage of rehab.

Everett makes his offseason home in Houston, and doctors felt it important for him to be close to family and friends.

Bills punter Brian Moorman learned after practice that Everett was walking.

"Any time we hear about something along those lines, it gives you chills," he said. "We're always thinking about him, and we're thrilled any time we hear about any progress. ... It's obviously a good sign. We hope to see him personally sometime soon."

Everett hasn't spoken publicly except through news releases and in a videotaped statement that was broadcast before Buffalo's home game against New England on Nov. 18.

"How are you doing Buffalo? This is Kevin Everett," Everett said, during the brief message that was shown on TV and the Ralph Wilson Stadium video scoreboard. "I just want to say, 'Come on, let's beat the Patriots.'"

Upon his release from Memorial Hermann, Everett said in a statement he was inspired after meeting many people that sustained similar injuries.

"Their courage and determination inspired me to fight every day for recovery of my ability to walk," Everett said. "While this news is a significant milestone for me, I still have a long journey to full recovery."

Everett's recovery has been the NFL's most inspirational story this season. And his presence has not been forgotten among Bills fans, with many wearing his jersey or T-shirts with his No. 85 on the back to home games.

The Bills' third-round draft pick in 2005, Everett is soft-spoken and reserved, and regarded highly by teammates and friends.

"He's just every guy's teammate," Moorman had said after Everett was hurt. "He's got such a great character, and it's obvious. He's not a man of many words, but he doesn't need to speak by words."

Everett had been active in his hometown of Port Arthur, Texas. Last summer, he hosted a football camp in which he charged no admission, handed out T-shirts and made sure every youngster had a ride to and from camp.

"He'd give you his last," said Kenny Harrison, who coached Everett in high school. "His biggest deal was making sure every kid that wanted to be a part the camp was able to be a part of it, no exception."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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