This is the inspiring moment a teenager attempts to sit up for the first time more than two years after an unprovoked stabbing left him paralysed and ‘effectively dead for 50 minutes’.
James Bascoe-Smith, then a 16-year-old schoolboy, was left in a wheelchair after he was knocked off a bicycle and repeatedly knifed by masked men in Brixton, south London, on February 23, 2021.
He had been testing a bicycle for his mother when he was targeted near his home. After being stabbed again and again, he shouted ‘call my mum, call my mum’ then collapsed.
Last November, a court heard James was the entirely innocent victim of a gang stabbing sparked either by a provocative online drill video or as ‘tit-for-tat’ revenge for a previous attack.
This is the inspiring moment James Bascoe-Smith (pictured) attempts to sit up for the first time in more than two years after an unprovoked stabbing left him paralysed and ‘effectively dead for 50 minutes’
James (pictured), then aged 16, was left in a wheelchair after he was knocked off a bicycle and repeatedly knifed by masked men in Brixton, south London, on February 23, 2021
The trial culminated in Leon Rashid, 20, and Taiquane Lewis, 19, being handed life sentences with minimum terms of 14 years and 13 years respectively.
Six months on from his attackers being brought to justice, James’ family, who said he was ‘effectively dead for 50 minutes’, have posted inspirational footage of the teenager bravely sitting up without aid.
Posting the heart-warming footage, his ‘proud” aunt said: ‘Today is a day we prayed for. James attempted to sit up on his own.
‘From seeing James at ground zero- D. E. A. D, watching behind a cordon, not being able to hold his hand as he slipped away, then being resuscitated at the scene. Hours of surgery by multiple surgeons repairing the injuries he sustained.
‘Watching James in the ICU for the first 2 weeks not responding, having 4 more cardiac arrests whilst in ICU.’
She revealed that James had to have his chest open for nine days because doctors feared his blood pressure would become too high and cause another cardiac arrest if they closed it.
After three weeks, the family were informed by doctors that they should not expect to ever see James as he was before the savage attack and that he would be in a vegetative state because the loss of oxygen had caused significant damage.
‘I remember sitting there thinking, we will never hear his voice again, we will never see his beaming smile, we wouldn’t hear him play our favourite songs,’ she added.
Leon Rashid (left), 20, from Thornton Heath, south London, and Taiquane Lewis (right), 19, Kennington, south London, were each handed life sentences with minimum terms of 14 years and 13 years respectively
Due to the pandemic, only one family member at a time was allowed to visit James during his time at King’s College Hospital.
James’ aunt recalled breaking the news that he would be in a vegetative state to his mother, father, step father and other family members who were in the hospital foyer.
She added: ‘As I left the ward, I stood outside and froze, it just hit me, my nephew will never be the same again, up until that point I was full of faith and hope, but hearing that my spirit broke. How do I tell my family this. I broke down, then I knew we had to dig deeper in our faith, pray with purpose and keep hope alive.’
She recalled returning to the ward to comfort James and started playing uplifting Gospel music, before coming up with ‘The Plan’ to play him songs and messages of support from his family.
‘The one thing I will never forget out of all the people who spoke to James, when I put his mother on the phone, James cried tears, some doctors said its just reflex but I knew James was still with us and just needed time to recover,’ she added.
James surrounded by family and friends at the Old Bailey in November as his two attackers were sentenced for conspiracy to murder
The court heard James was the entirely innocent victim of a gang stabbing sparked either by a provocative online drill video or as ‘tit-for-tat’ revenge for a previous attack
James’ recovery was 449 days, including 174 in a trauma hospital, ‘but his rehabilitation journey will be life long,’ his family say.
During his attacker’s trial, James said, in a pre-recorded message: ‘I did not deserve this. I had no issues with anyone. I don’t know why they attacked me. I just want to know why they attacked me and if they feel bad for what they have done.’
He added: ‘I am grateful that the doctors saved my life but living like this is hard. I miss my friends. I miss my old life. Every day I wake up knowing this is how I will be forever.’
James’ family have set up a campaign called SitupStandup2 Knife Violence as they desperately launch efforts to eradicate street violence.
They have raised almost £70,000 to help with James’ recovery, which includes several kinds of therapy, a frame to allow him to stand, a mobile hoist, an electric folding wheelchair, a shower trolley and more.
For donations to James’s rehabilitation, visit the family’s GoFundMe page.