NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Family and friends of a man shot in the head during Mardi Gras gave an update Thursday on his condition and recovery.
Sam Butler, 18, was supposed to get his high school diploma with the rest of his friends.
"We were looking forward to all of us walking across that stage hand-in-hand cause we've all been together since freshman year, and it's just different realizing Sam has missed half of his senior year," Daut'e Martin said.
Instead, Butler has spent the past three months in the hospital.
On Mardi Gras, police say a fight broke out among a group of people and shots were fired at the intersection of Union and Carondelet streets.
"On February 13, he was diagnosed with a gunshot to the right temple, resulting in bilateral frontal hematoma with a traumatic brain injury. He had to have a second brain surgery on February 15 due to a blood clot forming over the wound," said Butler's aunt, Allieta Butler-Blue.
Butler-Blue said the shooting left Butler paralyzed on his left side, non-verbal and unable to eat on his own.
Despite these hardships, she said Butler stays positive.
"This little boy been through a lot and he smiles through it all," Butler-Blue said.
His friends share fond memories as well.
"Sam is a great football player. Like everybody has a good respect for Sam," Martin said.
Butler's absence is felt by his classmates.
"You notice the difference that he's not there, and you just can't, you can't be in that classroom and not think about how he was there and what happened to him and realizing that shouldn't have happened to him," Martin said.
Although Butler will not walk in his graduation, his friends will have a special presentation for him.
"There's supposed to be a video that presents at graduation from everybody that just says, you know, like, 'Sam, we are thinking about you, we hope you recover soon.' And we know that he is strong to fight this out, and we know that he would do amazing things," Martin said.
Butler's family said he's working hard at speech and physical therapy daily, but the road to recovery will be long.
"He keeps a smile on his face, and that keeps us pushing forward with him even when it looks dim and bleak. That brightens it all up," Butler-Blue said.
Police have arrested three suspects in the shooting.
You can help the family with medical costs here, or you can make donations at any Capital One Bank.