MA2 Kyle “Higgy” Higginbotham, is quick with the “dad jokes” during morning muster at Adaptive Sports camps. A native of Leesburg, Fla., he is often in bright spirits around his fellow adaptive-sports athletes.

“I give off a persona that I’m okay, but my accident really did affect me. Navy Wounded Warrior helped me take my guard down and come to terms with my injuries.”

On October 28, 2021, while stationed at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Higgy was riding his motorcycle late at night when he crashed under an overpass. As fate would have it, at that exact moment a state trooper was taking a quick break on the overpass and opened his windows. He heard the crash and rushed to the scene. He pulled the motorcycle off Higginbotham, who likely would have died within minutes if the trooper was not in the right place at the right time.

He was rushed to Tripler Army Medical Center and was in a coma. When he was stable, he returned to Florida to begin inpatient care at James A. Haley Veterans Hospital. He had to learn to walk and talk, feed and dress himself again. He went from 225 pounds at the time of the accident down to 160. He wanted to retire after 20 years and become a helicopter pilot for an oil company, but his TBI changed all of that.

Throughout his in-patient time, Higginbotham never lost his go-getter spirit. “I always loved working out, but I couldn’t because of my injuries. My Navy liaison saw that I was trying to stay active and he connected me with Navy Wounded Warrior. I attended my first adaptive sports camp in November 2022 and fell in love with the program. The coaches and athletes are like family to me now.”

Due to the nature of his injuries, Higginbotham needed some modifications to his sports. Though he had years of archery experience, previously shooting right-handed with a compound bow, coaches taught him to shoot left-handed while seated. It has become his favorite sport in the program.

“I get lost in my head or overthink. With archery, it’s a chance for me to slow down, meditate, and just breathe. As the Marines say, ‘improvise, adapt, and overcome.’”

Higginbotham went on to the 2023 Warrior Games Challenge in San Diego, Calif., and competed in archery, cycling, field, indoor rowing, and shooting, earning several medals along the way. This strengthened his friendships with his teammates and coaches. “I can call any of them and know they’ll make time for me. I can decompress around them. Before coming to camp, I was in a dark mental fog. I was depressed, but my teammates and coaches brought me out of that space. They saved me.”

Higginbotham medically retired in August 2023 and his recovery care coordinator and transition coordinator at Navy Wounded Warrior helped to smooth out some hiccups with his pension to get him off on the right track as a veteran.

He continues to visit his gym several times a week and uses what he learned at camps to improve his own routines. He’s been so inspired by his time with Team Navy that he has been training to become a Certified Personal Trainer. He wants to help other recovering veterans maintain their physical fitness, too.

Now a returning athlete for the 2024 Navy team, he welcomes opportunities to share his experiences with the rookies. One of his favorite sayings is a Toby Keith lyric, “I may not be as good as I once was, but I’m as good as I ever was.”