Family feeling 'lucky and blessed' as former #1 high school basketball recruit in Illinois recovers in hospital, father says
JOLIET, Ill. (WLS) -- Jeremy Fears Sr. said the family feels blessed on Saturday night after his son's successful three-hour surgery.
The father told ABC7 the shooting happened while 18-year-old Jeremy Fears Jr. was at a former teammate's house.
The former number one high school basketball recruit in Illinois is still in the hospital on Saturday evening, recovering from a gunshot wound.
"He's in really good spirits right now. He's up watching TV, eating and talking, so we feel real good about that," Fears Sr. said.
Fears Jr. is a star freshman point guard on the Michigan State basketball team. He was shot in the thigh while visiting his hometown of Joliet during the holiday break.
His father breathed a massive sigh of relief on Saturday night.
"If it was anywhere else, it could have been a lot more damaging, so just feel real lucky and blessed he's doing good and recovering. That's all we can ask for," Fears Sr. said.
Fears Sr. said he and his family were on a college visit in Rhode Island for his other son when they got the call.
Joliet police said the shooting happened just before 4 a.m. in the 300 block of St. Jude Avenue, where an armed male suspect entered a home and fired shots, hitting Fears Jr. and a 19-year-old woman, who was struck in her pelvis. The suspect then ran away.
Both victims were transported to Ascension St. Joseph Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries, police said.
Fears Sr. said the house where the shooting happened belongs to one of his son's former teammates, adding that it was a normal gathering among friends before the shooter came in.
"To my understanding, it was some kind of random act. Someone just came in. My son told me he was in all black with a ski mask on, and just started firing," Fears Sr. said.
Police said officers searched the area, but did not find the suspect. Officers are still working to determine the motive and intended target of the shooting.
Fears Jr. posted a photo on his Instagram story on Saturday afternoon, showing him in the hospital, referencing a minor setback and thanking fans for their support.
MSU head coach Tom Izzo issued a statement, saying, in part, "my focus is supporting Jeremy on his road to recovery."
The family was told by doctors that it will be a six-to-eight-week recovery for Fears Jr., and it's still unclear if he'll be able to return this season. Fears Sr. said they're not rushing anything, calling this a miracle in itself.
"He'll bounce back. It is life, so things happen. He's recovering, so we're really happy about that," Fears Sr. said.
The shooting came after the freshman had a career-high 10 assists in the Spartans' 99-55 win over Stony Brook on Thursday.
He has played in all 12 of MSU's games this year. The family said they're looking forward to many more once their son heals up.
Police asked anyone with information to contact the Joliet Police Department Investigations Division at 815-724-3020, the Will County Crime Stoppers at 800-323-6734 or online at https://crimestoppersofwillcounty.org/ if they wish to remain anonymous.