Tracy Morgan Talks to ‘Today’ about the Road to Recovery

Comedian and TV star Tracy Morgan gave his first interview since he suffered brain injury in a June 2014 traffic accident that left his friend and mentor, James McNair, dead.

Morgan spoke with  Today Show host Matt Lauer on Monday about his difficulty in recovering from the debilitating accident and coping with the loss of his friend. Morgan recently settled a lawsuit with Walmart over the accident in which a Walmart truck driver slammed into a limo bus carrying the star, McNair, and two other passengers who suffered critical injuries.

“I can’t believe I’m just here,” he told Lauer. “And just seeing the tragedy that happened. It touches me.”

Along with several broken ribs and a broken leg, he suffered severe brain trauma. He said he still feels the after-effects today.

Morgan Finally Speaks Out

The interview came not long after Walmart reached a confidential settlement with him and the other accident victims. While his lawyer previously expressed being pleased with the terms, Morgan said, “The case is settled, but the pain is always going to be there for Jimmy Mac (McNair).”

Morgan’s head injuries put him into a coma immediately following the crash. He has no memory of that fateful night and only remembers waking up in the hospital to the sight of his fiance and son two weeks after the incident.

Gratitude and Sorrow

Morgan expressed his gratefulness to the family members, friends, and medical staff who pulled him through a difficult time. Not only did he have to face his own recovery, but he also had to deal with learning that his close friend McNair was dead. He admitted to Lauer that the full impact of the accident and loss didn’t hit him until he was released from the hospital and saw videos of the wreckage and McNair’s funeral.

The comedian said that being surrounded by loving family members, friends and co-workers, like Tina Fey of “30 Rock,” kept him buoyed during the painful recovery process, along with medical staffers who helped pull him through. He said, “I’ve been down, and they keep my spirits up.” His gratitude as well placed, as support and a strong social network are key to recovering from traumatic brain injuries.

Lasting Effects

As often happens with traumatic brain injuries, Morgan still suffers from its effects. He explained to Lauer, “There are times where I have my good days and my bad days, where I forget things. There are times where I get the headaches, and the nose bleeds.”

Morgan’s experience is not uncommon among brain injury survivors. Headaches and forgetfulness are just two of many common symptoms, which also include memory loss, dizziness, ringing in the ears, and seizures.

Morgan still faces an uphill battle, but he insists that he plans to return to comedy when he’s able, and he’s following advice that it’s important for brain injury survivors not to push themselves too hard too quickly.

“I love comedy,” Morgan said. “I’ll never stop loving her. I love comedy and I can’t wait to get back to her, but right now my goal is just to heal and get better because I’m not 100 percent yet…and when I’m there, you’ll know it. I’ll get back to making you laugh. I promise you.”