ZEPHYRHILLS, Fla. - Tyler Jeffries liked to go by 'TJ.' He played baseball for Coach Cimorelli and graduated from Zephyrhills High School in 2007. He joined the Army soon after and deployed to Afghanistan for his first tour this past April.
On Saturday, TJ was critically injured.
"My heart goes out to his mom and his dad. I can't imagine having a kid over in Afghanistan. I've got three kids of my own." said Coach Bruce Cimorelli.
His unit was clearing an area and when the squad moved forward, TJ stepped on an IED. The explosion took off part of each of his legs. TJ was flown to Germany and then Walter Reed in Maryland where doctors had to remove even more of his left leg.
"They would go through the wall for us. We expected a lot of them -- being on time, being good citizens. To me, that carries over to their service and defending the country. So I'm very proud of TJ," said Coach Cimorelli
He has earned a Purple Heart and is facing at least a year of rehab.
His school and the wider Zephyrhills community has sent him messages and care packages. A Facebook page, 'Supporting Tyler Jeffries,' has been set up and already has thousands of 'likes' and get well messages.