Source: Aiken Standard – By Teddy Kulmala
Staff photo by Teddy Kulmala At a show on Friday featuring Aiken native Jimmy Lucas, left, performing a collection of Michael Jackson hits. Pictured, right, is Brock Baxley.
SALLEY — Few people would associate Michael Jackson with drunken driving, but the show put on Friday night by Aiken native Jimmy Lucas also sought to raise funds for Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
Lucas, known by his stage name J Lucas, is famous for his performances of the late Michael Jackson’s music. On Friday, he wowed the audience in the Salley Civic Center with a show that paid homage to the King of Pop with performances of classics such as “Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough” and “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You.” Near the end of the show, though, the music died down, and the artificial fog cleared as Brock Baxley took the stage.
Baxley was 18 years old when he and several other Lexington High School students were involved in a drunken-driving collision on Feb. 26, 2010, an accident that he said changed his life physically and spiritually.
Before a drunken driver traveling the wrong way on Interstate 26 struck their vehicle head-on, Baxley said he was a “big-headed” athlete with football scholarships at three schools waiting on him.
“I was running from God. … I started getting into things that you don’t get into at 14,” he said on Friday. “The girls thought I was pretty and cute, and that got me in trouble. I was focusing on getting Cs to pass because that’s what you had to do to play football. That got me in trouble because I was hanging out with the wrong crowd.”
Baxley was one of the more seriously injured passengers after the three-car collision. He suffered 17 broken bones and four dislocations in his right foot, which had been pinned between the floorboard and the passenger door in the wreck. He pulled himself out of the wreck but couldn’t walk on the shattered foot.
“Coach always told me to walk it off. My dad always told me, ‘Son, walk it off,’” he recalled. “I couldn’t walk it off. I dropped straight to my knees, and now, three years and 10 months later, I believe it was for a reason. I was too bigheaded, I stood tall and thought I was my own guy. Jesus basically told me, ‘No, you’re not.’”
No one was killed in the collision. The driver later pleaded guilty to two counts of felony DUI with bodily injury and was sentenced to 30 years in prison.
After the wreck, Baxley said he endured 10 surgeries. Doctors told him he’d never be able to run or to walk without crutches or a cane. He also become addicted to painkillers and alcohol, the latter of which he struggled with even before the wreck. Nearly two years after the wreck, he found out he’d suffered brain injuries in the collision.
“Basically God took everything away from me,” he said. He later witnessed someone’s testimony that centered on a shiny new watch being smashed and then put back together.
“No matter how many mistakes you make, no matter how much you sin … (God) can pick up all your pieces,” he said.
After Baxley’s speech, Lucas returned to the stage to perform the King of Pop’s hit “Man in the Mirror.”
“Make a change for yourself, so you can change the world and the people around you,” Baxley said. “So that they can see God through you.”
Tina Hartley of Salley wanted Baxley to come speak to the people of Salley and was later inspired to get Lucas to perform. Her daughter Lauren and husband Chris also sang several selections.
“I was just laying in bed one night and thought it’d be a good thing to have,” she said. “Lauren would get up to sing, then Michael, then let Brock come up and then do ‘Man in the Mirror,’ where he made the change. I feel like that’s where Michael Jackson was going when he passed away.”
There wasn’t a huge crowd at Friday’s event, but there was a passionate one. Kaitlyn Jordan of Waterloo wore a replica of the red and black jacket Jackson wore in the video for “Thriller.”
“I told (Lucas) before I came here today that I drove two hours to see him and that I would not do that for anyone else,” she said.
In addition to a portion of the ticket proceeds going to MADD, donations were also being taken up for the nonprofit.
“People don’t have to go somewhere to a club or to get drunk in order to have a good time,” Hartley said of Friday’s show. “They can come see people in concert, hear something good, something about the Lord, and maybe leave feeling better. Or, if they’ve never heard about the Lord before, they’ve heard about him tonight.”
Teddy Kulmala covers the crime and courts beat for the Aiken Standard and has been with the newspaper since August 2012.
He is a native of Williston and majored in communication studies at Clemson University.
Administrator’s Note: The irony of this story is that Michael Jackson was a part of the campaign against drunk driving back in the 80’s. He was recognized by President Reagan for his efforts. See below. Cutie Pie ♥