Kimbro turns adversity to triumph

Published 9:17 am Wednesday, August 8, 2012

You’ll have to excuse Digger Kimbro if he doesn’t consider football a life or death matter.

It’s not that Kimbro, one of Greenville High School’s newest football coaches, isn’t passionate about the game. After all, he did grow up in the south where football is king, and he was a better than average player in his days at Fort Dale Academy.

It’s just that Kimbro is better acquainted than most with actual life or death matters.

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In December, Kimbro was fighting for his life.

The Fort Dale Academy graduate was one of three people shot during a failed robbery attempt of a Birmingham-area bar. Kimbro was simply at the wrong place at the wrong time.

The Greenville native was working as a deliveryman for Birmingham Budweiser. Wallace’s Lounge, an Ensley neighborhood bar in the 300th block of 19th street in Birmingham, was a stop on Kimbro’s route. After entering the bar to make his delivery, Kimbro was shot by Ivan Batain. The bullet entered through Kimbro’s shoulder and ricocheted downward through his body, going through his lung, liver and small intestine.

The shot put Kimbro square in the middle of a life or death battle.

It took multiple surgeries during the course of the next 21 days to repair the damage. For much of his stay at UAB Hospital, Kimbro was listed in critical condition.

Months later Kimbro jokes that the shooting was Birmingham’s way of letting him know the city didn’t care for him too much.

He talks about how the shooting made him more determined to live his dream of being a high school coach.

He points out that it strengthened his relationship with his then-girlfriend Tiffany Burkett and drew his entire family closer together.

Digger Kimbro took a nightmarish situation and found the silver lining over and over again.

He’s now happily married and preparing for his first season as an assistant coach with Greenville High School.

If that doesn’t make you smile, then I’m not sure what will.

I for one can’t wait to see Digger step on the sideline of Tiger Stadium come Aug. 31 when the Tigers open their 2012 campaign against Anniston High School.

That’ll be a pretty special moment in the life of one of Butler County’s own. One that has overcome more than his fair share of adversity.

Birmingham may not have liked him too much, but here in Greenville we’re glad to have him back.