At this time last year, Tracy Morgan was confined to a wheelchair. Now that Morgan is back on his feet and working again, he took ET through his miraculous recovery process and the pivotal role his 2-year-old daughter, Maven, played in getting him healthy.
Morgan was left in critical condition when a Walmart tractor-trailer struck a vehicle carrying the comedian on the New Jersey Turnpike on June 7, 2014. The accident proved fatal for one passenger, comedian James McNair, and doctors feared that Morgan would never fully recover. The Emmy-nominated actor sustained a severe brain injury during the crash as well as a broken leg, nose and ribs.
A major step in the recovery process was learning to walk again, and Morgan told ET that he had a learning partner.
“Me and [Maven] started walking at the same time,” Morgan said. “When my daughter started walking, she took me and Moms [Morgan’s wife Megan Wollover] right there, first step. I was in the wheelchair and I said, ‘I’m walking, too,’ and a week later I was standing.”
The world celebrated along with Morgan for every bit of progress that was made public. In July 2014, he was recorded using a walker; in June 2015 Morgan gave his first sitdown interview with the Today show, clutching a cane. Morgan was photographed for the first time walking on his own since the crash in July 2015. In September, he made a triumphant return to the Emmys with a heartfelt speech expressing thanks to his supporters. Last month marked his first time on stage doing standup in 16 months and fans got the ultimate treat when he came home to host Saturday Night Live on Oct. 17.
“I worked hard in my physical therapy,” Morgan said. “A lot of yelling. A lot of ouching. My therapist, Mary-Ann, she bust my ass. She said to me, ‘I don’t want to see you limping!’ She taught me how to stand and she got me back.”
One milestone had more to do with emotional recovery — the first time he laughed following the crash. Morgan told us that honor was given to him by his good friend and fellow SNL alum, Eddie Murphy.
“It was Eddie on the phone,” Morgan said. “Eddie said, ‘Are you all right?’ And he said, ‘I love you and take a year off. Take as much time as you can off, because you don’t want to get on that stage with your knees wobbling.’ And I started laughing!”
Morgan let us know how much it means to have people laughing at him again.
“It just lets me know it’s going to take more than eighteen wheels to take the gift that God gave me,” Morgan said. “He still got something for me to do, and that’s how I’m taking it. I mean people laughing for me, that means it’s going to take more than eighteen wheels.”
Morgan and his whole family are involved in Foot Locker’s “Week of Greatness” campaign, which kick off nationwide on Saturday.