Tracy Morgan doesn’t hold a grudge against Walmart. In fact, the comic — who made his first television appearance in a year on Monday — praised the company for “[stepping] up to the plate in a major way.”
A year ago, one of its semis rear-ended a limo carrying Tracy and several of his friends home from a show in Delaware. He suffered a severe head injury and was in a coma for two weeks. Two of his friends were seriously hurt, and another died, Today reported. Morgan sued the company and recently settled.
In a emotional interview about the crash on the Today Show, Morgan remembered the friend who was killed that night on the New Jersey Turnpike, fellow comedian and mentor James McNair. Though the details of crash elude him, Tracy does have one last memory of McNair — their last show together.
“The last time I saw Jimmy, he wrote a joke for me — it was a Donald Sterling joke. I did the joke and everyone was laughing… I looked over and Jimmy stood there laughing,” Morgan said, according to USA Today.
Tracy’s next memory is emerging from his coma to see the faces of his son and fiancée. That’s when he learned James — “a loving man … a warm man,” had died.
Morgan got on YouTube to watch footage of his friend’s funeral and the accident, every day. Though it was almost unbearable, Tracy said he had to “know what happened to my friend. I had to know. I had to pay my respects, and that was my way.”
But Walmart did what was right, he said, taking full responsibility for the actions of driver Kevin Roper, who was driving 20 mph over the speed limit and hadn’t slept in 24 hours when he crashed into Morgan’s limo. He’s facing criminal charges, to which he’s pleaded not guilty.
The company not only settled with Morgan, but with McNair’s family as well, according to KTLA.
“I’m just happy that they looked out for Jimmy Mac’s family. He can rest in peace now. In the beginning there was a misunderstanding but that got squared away. They came through in the clutch.”
Recovery has been difficult. Morgan suffered a traumatic brain injury, a broken leg, nose, and ribs in the collision. He still has scars on his head, headaches and nosebleeds, and forgets things. When Tracy first came out of his coma, he cursed and threw things at his nurse. He later apologized.
A year later, Tracy said he still hasn’t recovered. But he still has his eyes on the stage and promised the public that he will be making them laugh again soon.
“I love comedy. I’ll never stop loving her. I love comedy and I can’t wait to get back to her, but right now my goal is just to heal and get better because I’m not 100 percent yet, I’m not… And when I’m there, you’ll know it. I’ll get back to making you laugh. I promise you.”
[Photo Courtesy Today Show screengrab]