Get the latest from TODAY
Malori Maddox's world shifted after she lost vision in her right eye during a volleyball game Nov. 10.
In the months leading up to Lubbock Christian University's volleyball match against Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas, the 20-year-old volleyball player complained to her mom, Sarah Maddox, that she felt like something was growing in the front of her head.
"We tried getting an appointment with her optometrist, but between her school work and practices, there wasn't a time they could fit her in," her mom, 43, told TODAY.com.
Malori Maddox, a sophomore who is studying to become a physical therapist, slept the entire three-hour long bus ride — time she usually spends studying. She was playing well in the beginning of the game, but after missing a couple balls she usually makes, she started to get worried and realized she was beginning to lose vision.
"My husband and I saw what was going on from the stands and immediately ran to her," Sarah Maddox said. "She was hysterically crying and said she lost vision in her right eye."
They then rushed her to the emergency room at Kell West Regional Hospital and she spent the entire ride in the ambulance unconscious and throwing up on her mother's lap.
"It was the scariest moment of my entire life," said Sarah Maddox.
After a quick CT scan, they saw bleeding in the brain and fortunately, Dr. Yogish Kamath, who happened to be at the hospital during off hours, was able to immediately perform the five-hour surgery necessary before flying to the Zale Lipshy University Hospital in Dallas, which specializes in neuroscience.
After a two-week stay in the ICU, they got transferred to a regular room for a week, where Malori Maddox was able to stop using breathing and feeding tubes.
She's since been released from the hospital, but is staying in Dallas with her family to go to Pate Rehabilitation for six hours of rehab a day until Jan. 6, when the surgery to remove her brain AVM — an abnormal connection between arteries and veins, which is what caused bleeding in her brain — is scheduled.
"We left home almost a month ago, thinking we were just attending her volleyball game," said Sarah Maddox, "but haven't been home since."
Malori Maddox has received 900 visitors since entering the hospital in Dallas, which is six hours away from their Lubbock, Texas, home. Many have brought the family clothes and other essential items, and her teammates brought her a ball that they all signed when they came to visit.
Her siblings, Maci, 14, and Peyton, 18, have not only felt the love from their community, but also their sports teams.
Maci's basketball team wore "Pray for Malori" shirts during a recent practice and prayed for her during warmup. They even gave her a new No. 5 jersey, which is her older sister's number.
Since Malori Maddox had to shave her beautiful long blonde hair, Peyton Maddox's baseball team at Oklahoma State University decided to honor her and shave their heads.
"They didn't know Malori and barely even knew Peyton," Sarah Maddox said. "He had just joined the team when everything happened."
Although the question of whether she'll be able to play volleyball again is still uncertain, she's making great strides. She just learned to walk on her own again and is starting to get movement back in her right hand, which will allow her to eat without help.
"She went from being a 4.0 student to not knowing her shapes or animals," Sarah Maddox said. "It's hard to watch, but we're taking it day by day and all we can be is grateful that we still have our 'Miracle Mal.'"