Drake White Rising From the Ashes Following Brain Bleed: ‘This Is My Path’
It was a hot Saturday night in Virginia in August of 2019 when Drake White stepped onstage with a secret.
At the time, only close family and friends knew that, far away from the spotlight, the Alabama native had been diagnosed with an arteriovenous malformation (AVM), an abnormal tangle of arteries and veins in the brain that disrupts normal blood flow. And while multiple surgeries to fix the condition continued to batter his body, his can-do spirit remained intact.
That is, until he started singing that fourth song.
“It’s unreal that it's been a year since that night in Roanoke,” White says during a recent interview about reaching his one-year mark following a brain bleed he suffered onstage that night that caused him to nearly collapse. “We have been grinding and working hard every day since then. It's been the most transformational year ever.”
Indeed, it’s been a rough couple of years for White. He’s been hospitalized a total of 37 days. He has powered through more than 700 hours of physical therapy between Vanderbilt, Resilient Health in Brentwood, Tenn., and home. And he has experienced various levels of paralysis on one side of his body.
He continues to make huge strides in his recovery, but he still has a long way to go.
“I don’t want to sugar coat it,” says White, whose therapy now includes techniques such as needling, body stretching and lifting weights. “On a scale of 1 to 10, I feel like somewhere between a 5 to 7. I hit some ceilings and plateaus, but I’ve been working really hard. My legs are coming back under me. I’m working on my gait. I still have a little limp. I’m working on those synergy things.”
Nevertheless, White continues to push what some might consider physical boundaries left behind after his stroke.
“I try to jump rope, but I have to admit that’s pretty funny,” admits White, who released his five-song EP Stars in April. “I have learned not to take myself too serious and not let my ego in the way of the greatness God has waiting for me. This is my path. If I can help one person by taking my ego out of the game, then let’s go.”
In yet another example of the true irony of White’s situation, the "Livin' the Dream' hitmaker says he has actually appreciated the timing of the coronavirus pandemic because it has given him more time to heal.
“I mean, we were going to go back in March,” he says regarding his touring plans before COVID-19. “I was able to hone in the songs and my skills. I was able to bask in my music, and I was able to have something to look forward to with my weekly virtual show Wednesday Night Therapy.”
While White is not entirely sure what the future holds for him, he has some ideas. Before his Oct. 3 birthday this year, he wants to put out five new songs that he wrote while recuperating from his brain bleed. He also has a new album concept he has been thinking about -- and, of course, can’t wait to get on a stage again.
“I still believe that I am a great entertainer with a lot of shows to play and stages to run around on and do backflips on,” he says with a chuckle. “I still want to land a back tuck off the drum riser. I still want to do all of that s--t."
LOOK: Country Stars Who Have Faced Tragedy