Gartrell Johnson

Chargers tailback turns shooting into blessing

Chargers tailback turns shooting into blessing

The bullet is still an inch from Curtis Brinkley's heart.

It survived hours of emergency surgery. It was lodged there during months of rehab. And three years after the early-morning shooting nearly killed Brinkley, it remains inside of him as he lives out his NFL dream — one that had looked as if it would never be realized —by playing for the San Diego Chargers.

And like Brinkley, that bullet isn't going anywhere anytime soon.

"I know what it's like being on that bed, not knowing if you're going to live," he said. "I use that as motivation. There's a bullet an inch away from my heart, but I'm living my dream. That's big."

Brinkley, a 26-year-old...