LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Tristan Ballinger, 18, has made some strides in his recovery from a severe brain injury in late 2016. Each step he's taken is leading up to a walk at his high school graduation Saturday.
Doctors told his parents early on he had an uncertain future. "They look at his medical records, his scans and they say there's no way Tristan should be doing the type of things that he's doing," said his dad Mike.
Tristan spent two months in a coma. Extensive rehab followed in Florida, Chicago and Japan.
"We don't know how long that journey is going to be for recovery, but our goal is to continue until he's as independent as possible," said mother Nicole.
It hasn't always been easy, but there's been some promising progress, including Tristan building up his muscles and increasing his mobility. He's also taken part in CrossFit. Nicole says his memory is also improving.
"He couldn't even remember probably more than two minutes and we're seeing indications that he can remember some tasks 45 minutes later," she told WHAS11.
More recently, Tristan was named prom king. It was a surprise even to him. "I was like 'Woo-Hoo I'm prom king!" Tristan said.
Tristan's journey - from a hospital bed to a graduation stage - his parents defying doctors beliefs he would be better off in someone else's care.
"We were told we needed to find a long term care facility for him and that just wasn't in the cards," Mike said.
Tristan's graduation is set for 1:30pm at Freedom Hall. He has plans to attend college and become a veterinarian.