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Kia Tigers' Aaron Brooks thanks fans for support for injured son, rules out KBO return for '20

Sports 16:50 September 25, 2020

By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, Sept. 25 (Yonhap) -- Kia Tigers' pitcher Aaron Brooks took to social media to thank his fans and fellow players in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) for their support for his son, who is recovering from injuries sustained in a recent auto accident.

In a video clip posted on his Instagram page Friday, Brooks and his wife, Whitney, provided an update on Westin, who was seriously hurt in a crash caused by a driver running a red light in Kansas City earlier this week. Brooks left the Tigers to be by his family. Whitney and the couple's daughter, Monroe, escaped with relatively minor injuries, and Westin took the brunt of the hit.

In this file photo from Sept. 13, 2020, Aaron Brooks of the Kia Tigers pitches against the NC Dinos in a Korea Baseball Organization regular season game at Changwon NC Park in Changwon, 400 kilometers southeast of Seoul. (Yonhap)

"If and when you see the picture of the car, it's a miracle that they're all here, especially Westin," Brooks said. "We're doing as well as we can as a family. We're so thankful for everyone's support. I think it's what's keeping us somewhat sane through this. Obviously, it's hard for any parent to go through something like this. We're just trying to stay strong for Westin and just let him know it's going to be okay."

Brooks said his son is "a trooper" as he battles through his injuries. Whitney said Westin was supposed to be intubated for 48 hours but that he was already out of the intensive care unit.

"Every time doctors come in, they're blown away, literally in awe of how well he's doing," Whitney said. "It's because of the prayers. We really appreciate it. It's so overwhelming, the love and support that we have. I wish I can line you guys up and give you hugs personally because you deserve it."

Kim Sun-bin of the Kia Tigers is in action against the Kiwoom Heroes in a Korea Baseball Organization regular season game at Gwangju-Kia Champions Field in Gwangju, 330 kilometers south of Seoul, on Sept. 22, 2020. Kim is sporting a helmet bearing the name of Westin Brooks, son of Park's teammate Aaron Brooks, in a show of support for Westin's recovery from injuries sustained in an auto accident in Kansas City. (Yonhap)

Whitney said she has completely forgiven the driver who crashed into her car by running a red light because she believes it was an accident, and pleaded with her supporters to do the same.

"I think he has enough guilt in his life ... He stood there and watched them pull the kids out of the car. That's enough for a person," she said. "I pray that he's okay, too. I want anybody who's holding on to any grudge against him (to) let it go. It's not worth it. We need to be thankful that Westin is with us and that he's progressing so well."

Whitney said Westin loves pictures and videos with messages of support for him, including the one of Tigers' players holding up the W sign for his name when they get on base, and asked followers to keep sending them pictures and videos.

With his young son still "not out of the woods," baseball remains well down the list of priorities for Brooks.

Yang Hyeon-jong of the Kia Tigers pitches against the Kiwoom Heroes in a Korea Baseball Organization regular season game at Gwangju-Kia Champions Field in Gwangju, 330 kilometers south of Seoul, on Sept. 22, 2020. He is wearing a cap with the name of teammate Aaron Brooks' son, Westin, written on it, in a show of support for Westin's recovery from injuries sustained in an auto accident in Kansas City. (Yonhap)

"I just don't foresee getting back this season, as much as I'd love to help us get to the playoffs," Brooks said. "(The Tigers have been) amazing with just support of giving me the opportunity to forget about baseball right now. Obviously, family comes first and foremost. This is a long road for us right now."

The former major league right-hander was enjoying an outstanding first season in the KBO. He was 11-4 with a 2.50 ERA over 151 1/3 innings, and stood as among the league leaders in most pitching categories. The Tigers are contending for a playoff spot, sitting half a game out of the fifth and final playoff spot at 60-52, with 32 games remaining.

New foreign players coming into the KBO can only sign one-year deals. Brooks said he doesn't know what's to come next year but added, "I am planning on playing. I am pretty sure (Westin) is going to be doing great by that point."

Whitney chimed in: "Definitely, (Westin) will be glad to come back to Gwangju and cheer on the Tiger next year, that's for sure. He loves the Tigers and fans. If we're coming back next year, he'll be right there with us."

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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