Lerone Murphy Recalls Being Shot in the Face

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Lerone “The Miracle” Murphy made his fourth appearance with the UFC at UFC 267 in Abu Dhabi and stunned the crowd with a fantastic knockout just 0:14 into the second round. What’s even more impressive is why Murphy may have the most appropriate nickname in mixed martial arts. After his incredible comeback victory against Makwan Amirkhani at UFC 267, Murphy appeared on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani to discuss a turning point in his life and how he earned “The Miracle” moniker.

In May 2013, Murphy visited a barbershop in Fallowfield, Manchester. Stepping out of the barbers, Murphy would experience a moment that he still thinks about “probably every day.” A bystander was heard shouting “please don’t” before multiple shots were fired. Murphy was shot on the right side of his face. The bullet went through his cheek, knocking out four teeth and piercing his tongue. “My mouth felt heavy, and I thought it was blood or something, but then I could see the bullets on the floor.” The swelling in his mouth required an emergency tracheotomy to prevent him from suffocating. As horrifying as that sounds, Murphy described it as feeling like a “punch to the face.”

Murphy recalls going unconscious momentarily before realizing what happened. He got into his cousin’s car and immediately drove to the hospital, where he stayed for “10 days to two weeks.” Cosmetically the damage was contained inside the mouth, but according to Murphy, “an inch to any side it would have been a different story.” Murphy downplays the physical recovery, but mentally he admits to being angry much of the time. “I was just not doing anything with my life,” he says. “I had no direction, no goals.”

A New Lease on Life

Roughly six months later, when he was 22, a new gym opened, and Murphy quickly joined. He never thought it would lead to a career in the UFC, but he was a fan, regularly watching UFC DVDs with his dad. As he began training, Murphy started to find peace. “That training took my mind away from thinking about it, and it was my only time where I felt free.” Training became an addiction. After showing up to the gym daily, his coach threw him into his first amateur bout on November 8, 2014. Despite his reluctance, Murphy was victorious, securing a submission via guillotine in round two. After going 4-0 as an amateur, Murphy turned pro and is currently 11-0-1, his most recent victory by way of an impressive knockout at UFC 267 on Fight Island.

As traumatic as the experience was, Murphy admits that it motivated him to do something special with his life. “I didn’t have any aspirations or goals at that time, so I needed it to happen. Now I have goals and am trying to do something better for myself.” That inspiration led him to a gym that would help him change his life. Today, he finds inspiration through his son. “That’s another big inspiration for me because I want him to look up to me and be proud of me.”

Murphy still does not know if he was the intended target. To his knowledge, the individual(s) responsible have never been apprehended. While Murphy still thinks about that fateful day in 2013 and how it changed his perspective on life, he suggests an even scarier thought is where he would be today without discovering that gym and mixed martial arts. 

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