Rise Of A Warrior Princess – The Ashley Young Story [VIDEO]
Nearly three years ago, Ashley Young danced on the brink of death. Today, though, she looks more like a warrior princess than a broken accident victim and she's facing her future with determination and hope.
On March 3, 2011, 22-year-old Ashley was driving with her friend, Levi Simmons, 30, on Coca Cola Lake Road in Genoa. "An 84-year-old retired pastor came around the curve directly in her lane, traveling in her lane between 65 and 70 [miles per hour] head on," said Dianne Young, Ashley's mother.
The cars collided, killing Levi and the other motorist, Bobby N. Manley, according to the Arkansas State Police report.
Following the accident, Ashley was taken to the LSU Trauma Center in Shreveport, wrote the Magnolia Reporter. Ashley was in a coma for 22 days, was completely paralyzed on her right side and suffered numerous other injuries, including a broken ankle, heel, leg, arm, kneecap, tendons and pelvis.
To top it all off, she also had a traumatic brain injury that still makes it difficult to remember things. Doctors told her mother that if Ashley did survive, she would likely need to be placed in a nursing home to receive round-the-clock care. Five weeks later, however, Ashley was moved to St. Michael's rehabilitation facility in Texarkana.
Even though family and friends visited frequently, Ashley still doesn't remember much about who came to visit or how often. "She has the memory loss," Dianne said. "Some things she can remember better than you and I, but then other things she doesn't remember at all."
The rehabilitation process was painful and arduous. Once she was finally able to get out of bed, Ashley had to walk with a walker for many months. A year after her accident, she returned to the hospital to have her foot operated on again because the screws and plates that had originally been used to repair the damage had given way. This time bone was taken out of her right knee and put into her foot. Both Ashley and Dianne pray that the surgery holds. A little over a year ago, Ashley finally transitioned to walking with a four-pronged cane.
Despite the improvement in her physical mobility, Ashley still struggled with depression and more often than not, her mother could find her laying on her bed with her computer and watching television.
Then Ashley came across a page on Facebook for Texarkana Self Defense. "I've wanted to take self defense," she said, "Because a guy that would come up behind me would expect I would be an easy steal with me being crippled and walking with my cane, so I wanted some way to surprise him."
Ashley also admitted that prior to her accident, she'd had a boyfriend who was very abusive and had sent her to the hospital at least six times. "I never want to be victimized again," she said.
After chatting with Jeff Easterling, who teaches Krav Maga in the self defense course, she decided to try and take the class. "Surprisingly, I can do a lot more than I thought," Ashley said.
Ashley's mind and body continue to grow stronger with each class. "Her reactions and everything are so much more alert now," Dianne said.
"I am doing more with both hands," Ashley said. She is able to vacuum and dust the apartment she shares with her mother, do laundry and walk to the mailbox at the front of their complex, all things that she had never been able to accomplish prior to taking her self defense classes. Krav Maga has bolstered her self confidence and helped alleviate her depression.
Now, as seen in the video above, she throws herself into the classes, jabbing, kicking and hitting like she is ready to do battle and take on the world, even if it means using her cane as a weapon.
"She's pretty much learned to stop saying, 'I can't,'" Dianne said. "She can if she tries."
What will the future bring? "I want to be a cosmetologist," Ashley said. "I was three or four years old and I told my sister who is a cosmetologist that I wanted to be a hair stylist when I got older."
"I also want to go to business school after I get my cosmetology license. Eventually I will have my own business and I want to have my own salon," Ashley said. "I'm very determined, more so now than before my car wreck."