WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Ricky Aiken has dedicated his life to ending gun violence in inner-city West Palm Beach and he now knows exactly what it’s like to get a phone call saying a family member has been shot.
"I don’t want anyone to have to feel what it’s like to lose or possibly lose someone to gun violence," Aiken said.
Kelvin McCray was released from the hospital Thursday after spending a week and a half there, recovering from being shot on Dec. 2 in his garage in a gated community off Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard.
"Hooked up to a ventilator, face swelling, his mouth is wired shut," Aiken said.
McCray, Aiken's oldest brother, was part of Aiken's inspiration for starting Inner City Innovators, which aims to end youth gun violence.
“He’d always tell me that if he had someone like me in his life when he was younger, his life would’ve been totally different," he said.
McCray went to federal prison on drug charges at a young age and came home a better person, determined to change his life.
Now, McCray is 39, a father and hard worker, working for the Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department and driving for a produce company.
"He was the example that I had that just because you make a mistake in life doesn’t mean that that mistake has to characterize the rest of your life," Aiken said.
At 4 a.m. on Dec. 2, McCray returned to his house in the gated City Side Condominium community off Palm Beach Lakes.
"He sees a white male come from behind the other car that was in his garage," Aiken said. "By then, it was too late,"
McCray was shot in his head and his hands.
"It caused major damage to his jaw," Aiken said. "It shattered his jaw. Some of the fragments from the bullets are still stuck in his throat."
Aiken has spent the last week and a half at his older brother's bedside.
"I would call his recovery nothing short of miraculous," Aiken said.
He'll continue to take care of him through the difficult recovery process and give McCray somewhere to live because he's afraid to return home.
“It’s a really haunting feeling, not knowing who, not knowing why," Aiken said.
Aiken is asking the community to consider helping him take care of his brother, another victim to gun violence, as he intends to continue to work to end gun violence in the community for good. His brother intends to help him with that.
“He’s definitely looking forward to using this experience to give back to speak into the lives of young people," Aiken said.
To donate to McCray's recovery, click here.
West Palm Beach Police Department detectives continue to investigate the case, but they have not made any arrests.