Nightly News   |  July 16, 2013

Snowboarder Kevin Pearce’s remarkable recovery

After an arduous rehab lasting more than three years, Kevin Pearce is back on the slopes and offering encouragement to those coping with brain injuries. NBC’s Kevin Tibbles reports.

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>>> finally tonight, the remarkable journey of a young man who beat the odds and got his life back, kevin pierce, a name you may know from our winter olympics coverage. the snow border who seemed headed for great things until a bad day at the end of '09. kevin tibbles has been following pierce since back then, and caught up with him since just before the release of a new documentary that chronicles his recovery.

>> reporter: in the air, a magician destined for the olympic podium in vancouver. and then it all came crashing down. a miscue during a difficult snowboard maneuver called the double cork left kevin pierce near death with critical brain injuries .

>> often we would just sit with him and hold his hand for hours.

>> reporter: an arduous rehab with one goal in mind.

>> things are going so well. i'm well aware now, it's taken me a long time to come to grips with it.

>> reporter: he proudly showed off his first board and spent the afternoon skateboarding with his brothers, including david who has downs syndrome .

>> reporter: kevin 's compelling journey back to health is now the subject of an hbo documentary.

>> neurologically, you cannot afford to hit your head.

>> don't get me wrong, i really appreciate the help i've gotten from doctors, but it comes a point where i'm ready to release from it all. get me out of here, enough's enough.

>> reporter: but it is brother david who questions kevin 's hope of competing again.

>> i don't want you to do it. is that what you want?

>> it's not worth it to put myself in that kind of risk and put my family in that situation where i could get hurt again.

>> reporter: he offers encouraging to others with brain injuries .

>> you're open to helping others. i feel like you've come such a long way.

>> reporter: kevin pierce still hits the slopes not to compete, but to celebrate. the incredible bond with a family he still holds so dear. kevin tibbles, nbc news, chicago.