CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Chancellor Lee Adams has been called a “miracle baby” in the past, but now he’s reached yet another milestone - his 21st birthday.
WBTV’s Steve Crump spoke with Chancellor and his grandmother, Saundra Adams, about how he is surviving and thriving now.
Saundra says this special milestone feels very, very special.
“Well, this, this is definitely a milestone for any young man moving from boy to manhood. So it’s no different for Chancellor Lee,” she said. “In fact, in some ways it’s even more celebratory because of the dire prognosis that we were given when he was born. So he has overcome so many challenges if they so many obstacles, but he has come through as not only a survivor, but a thriver. And here we are at 21 years old, my young man now.”
In 1999 Chancellor’s mother, Cherica Adams, was 30 weeks pregnant and feeling excited. She was finally going on her first official date with the father of her baby, Carolina Panthers wide receiver Rae Carruth.
The pair weren’t a couple, and family say Carruth didn’t seem interested in that. Then, Rae asked Cherica to go to the movies.
She was hopeful that maybe things would turn around. So, on November 15, 1999, they went to a showing of “The Bone Collector” at Regal Cinemas in South Charlotte.
After the movie, the two drove separately to go back to Cherica’s house. Cherica was following Rae when, suddenly, he stopped his car. Another car pulled up beside her, boxing her in. Then, someone began shooting into her car.
Rae took off, and Cherica was left to die with four bullets in her. She mustered up all of her strength to grab her phone.
Cherica told the 911 operator that “[Carruth] just left. I think he did it. I don’t know what to think.”
The mother was rushed to the hospital and, at 1:42 a.m. on November 16, Chancellor Lee Adams was born. He was premature, suffered severe brain damage and had cerebral palsy - all because of the shooting. Doctors said he probably would not live.
But he did.
Saundra says that’s because Chancellor is a fighter.
“I think he got that naturally, as I think back on that horrific night, how Sharica fought for her life and for the life of chancellor, she was mostly concerned about saving her baby. And when I think of the determination and just the pure courage that it took for her to make the phone calls and to stay on the line, you know, I’m so grateful that she was strong enough to do that. And we’re grateful to God that it all turned out in our favor.”
WBTV, and particularly Steve Crump, have been graciously welcomed along for much of Chancellor’s journey.
Just three years ago Chancellor, Saundra and Crump travelled to Louisville, Kentucky, and Churchill Downs so the then 18-year-old could get an up-close look at the race horses, which he loves.
Saundra says her grandson still loves horses, but hasn’t been able to ride recently due to the pandemic, but that they’re both “eager to get back out there” and hope to go again when classes start back up soon.
Many, many people remain inspired and uplifted by Chancellor’s story.
“I think I’ve learned most that, you know, even though you live life going forward, you understand it better going backwards,” Saundra said of that inspiration. “So I can truly say that what was meant for evil, God has turned it around for our good and that we learned that we’re not victims. We are victorious that we have chosen to get better instead of being bitter. And that forgiveness is the main ingredient to make that possible.”