By Suzanne Le Mignot

CHICAGO (CBS) — TaKiya Howard, an 18-year-old basketball star shot during a drive-by shooting in Englewood, had surgery Monday morning to remove a bullet lodged in her neck.

She made it through the surgery with no complications. Her mother told CBS 2’s Suzanne Le Mignot the surgeon’s hands had to be guided by God. One of the risks of the surgery was facial paralysis.

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“They gave me my baby back and I am appreciative of that,” said TaKiya’s mother Kimberly Howard.

Kimberly fought back tears as she thought about what her daughter has gone through.

“Every time I talk about it, I tear up, but they gave me my baby back,” she said. “These are happy tears.”

TaKiya, is a star guard on the De La Salle girl’s basketball team, with a full scholarship to Murray State. She and DePaul Prep basketball star and Loyola university recruit Ty Johnson were shot during a drive-by shooting in Englewood last Monday.  

Johnson was grazed in the back of the head and is recovering. A bullet grazed TaKiya’s ear and entered her neck.

After consultations with doctors and specialists, the teen decided to have the bullet removed at Stroger Hospital. Kimberly said a team of at least seven was in the operating room for about four and a half hours.

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“The surgical team that they actually put together was spot on and made the whole procedure seamless,” she said.

Among the surgery risks for TaKiya were facial paralysis and damage to her carotid artery. The bullet just missed that major artery in her neck.

“I thank them from the bottom of my heart! Every single surgeon that was in that room to assist with my daughter’s recovery and procedure, I thank them, thank them,” Kimberly said. “If I could hug them, I would, but I know it’s COVID-19, but for the most part, I am happy!”

Howard said her daughter made the decision to have the bullet removed because she didn’t want to have a life threatening injury on the basketball court, if the bullet traveled and hit her artery.

“That was the one concern that she had, and that’s why she pushed so hard for the surgery,” she said.

Kimberly said she is looking forward to bringing her daughter home Tuesday. She will have a follow up appointment next Tuesday.

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Right now, it looks like she will be able to attend graduation and prom and head to Murray State on May 23, to fulfill her dream of playing college basketball.

Suzanne Le Mignot