From Bad-Boy Boyfriend to America’s Dad: How Milo Ventimigla Survived Hollywood and Found Lasting Success

Milo Ventimiglia, Birthday FeatureDespite what This Is Us’ success may make it seem, Milo Ventimiglia hasn’t always been America’s TV dad.
With two seasons as the NBC hit’s imperfectly perfect patriarch…

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Boy Shot in Face By Mom in Murder-Suicide That Killed Brother Doesn’t Speak of Horror He Survived

Joey Slaight came close to dying when his mother, a recovering methamphetamine addict and schizophrenic, shot him point-blank in the head on Jan. 2, 2015, before shooting his little brother and then herself just a day after she had been released from a psychiatric hospital.

Joey’s brother, 6-year-old Jaxon, was killed immediately. Their mother, Morgan Slaight, 27, succumbed to her wounds 11 days later.

But Joey, now 11, survived.

The boy who spent the last three years in two different hospitals and in a pediatric brain rehabilitation center, learning to walk, talk and even eat again, finally came home to Oklahoma on March 31.

Now he lives with his paternal aunt, Andra Munoz, her husband, Jason, and her four children: Max, 15, Brooks, 12 and 4-year-old twins Champ and Tripp.

In this week’s issue of PEOPLE, Joey’s relatives and caregivers open up in-depth about his tireless recovery.

“From day one, we saw miracles,” says Munoz, Joey’s legal guardian, who updates his milestones on the Facebook page Joey Strong. “He kept getting better and better, and doctors were saying, ‘We just don’t understand why this is happening.’ ”

• For more on Joey’s life at home and his journey to recovery, subscribe now to PEOPLE or pick up this week’s issue, on newsstands Friday.

Despite the challenges Joey has overcome, no one knows how much he remembers about the horrors of that fateful morning in 2015. His doctors asked his family to avoid talking about the shooting and let Joey bring it up when he is ready.

Still, the trauma and monumental loss he suffered seem to be simmering in his subconscious: One of his first words was “gun,” as well as “almost died,” Munoz says.

Joey hasn’t yet mentioned Morgan or Jaxon by name during his waking hours, she says. But one night when her mother, Joey’s grandmother Randa Slaight, was staying in the room with him at Oklahoma’s The Children’s Center Rehabilitation Hospital, where he spent four months in 2015 after he was released from the University of Wisconsin Hospital in Madison, “she heard him whimpering and calling out for his mom.”

Munoz he says Joey has only said Jaxon’s name once, when he was under anesthesia. The two did practically everything together, with Joey often looking after his younger brother.

“They were very close,” she says.

“He’s been saying ‘my brother’ since he’s been home with us,” Munoz says — and he often tells her he plays outside with “a little boy. But there is no little boy there.”

Coming to terms with what he does remember from the day his whole world collapsed is “one of the unknown areas for our family,” Munoz says. She remains hopeful that he will work through it in time, as he has faced many other seemingly insurmountable obstacles so far.

“There’s no limit on what he can accomplish,” she says.

Joey’s Home Life Now

His family is happy to say that Joey is doing things like any other kid. He plays Xbox, eats dinner with his family and cuddles up with his aunt to hear his favorite bedtime stories.

Just weeks ago, they went on a weekend trip given to them by Great Wolf Lodge in Grapevine, Texas.

“I never thought we would ever be able to bring him to a water park to bring him to play,” Munoz tells PEOPLE. “It’s all just amazing.”

To defray the costs of his outpatient care, Joey’s family has set up the online fundraiser Joey Slaight’s going home fund.

While he received high-quality care, part of why he did so well has nothing to do with medicine, says Becky Mitchum, his Joey’s speech language pathologist at NeuroRestorative Timber Ridge in Arkansas, where he spent the last two years.

“A big part of his recovery is that Joey is loved,” she says.

Adds Randa, his grandmother: “Joey has all of us around him with love and he will always have us right with him.”

“Faith got us through this, and what keeps us going is the hope that Joey will keep doing better and better,” Munoz says. “We hope to help others with Joey’s story.”

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Ethan Hawke on How He Survived 11 Sundance Fests: ‘You Have to Be Strong and Humble’

In 1991, 21-year-old Ethan Hawke was shivering in the woods of Park City, Utah, playing a sergeant in the small World War II drama “A Midnight Clear,” when thousands of people suddenly invaded town. “That was the first time I’d ever heard of the Sundance Film Festival,” says Hawke today. “I thought, ‘Aw, this will […]



John McCain Tells PEOPLE How He Survived His 5 Years as a POW: ‘Faith in God, My Fellow Prisoners, and My Country’

Whether or not you agree with John McCain’s politics, there’s one thing about the 80-year-old Arizona lawmaker—who was recently diagnosed with brain cancer—that seems indisputable: the man is tough as nails.

The former Navy pilot is often described as a “war hero” in the media on account of the horrors he braved after his A-4 Skyhawk was shot down in October 1967 during a bombing run over Hanoi and taken prisoner by the North Vietnamese.

But the story of his capture and his five and a half years he spent fighting for his life and defying his captors in the notorious “Hanoi Hilton” prison camp are even more inspiring when you hear the gritty details of what McCain endured—and his account of how he managed to survive.

“The plane was gyrating violently and heading straight down, very fast, at about 500 knots,” McCain told PEOPLE during a lengthy interview in 1992 on the back porch of his home in Arizona, describing the hellish moments that elapsed after a surface-to-air missile blasted the wing off his jet.

It was his 23rd bombing mission over Hanoi and the 30-year-old lieutenant commander knew his only hope of survival was to bail out of the burning, doomed aircraft as it plummeted straight toward the ground. “When I ejected, the pressure flailed my arms back and that’s what broke my arms,” he recalled. “My knee obviously hit something on the way out and I ended up breaking my leg, too.”

His parachute opened and, as fate would have it, he drifted down into a lake in the middle of the city he’d been sent to bomb. “When they pulled me up on the bank, lots and lots of people started coming around,” he said. “They were pretty steamed, which is understandable since we’d just finished bombing the place. They bayoneted me in the foot and the crotch and were spitting at me, hollering and shouting.”

A group of soldiers finally arrived as locals were in the midst of beating him with a rifle butt, dumped him onto a stretcher, which was loaded on the back of a truck. He was eventually driven to the massive prison complex built by the French in 1945 where numerous American pilots were tortured and interrogated during the Vietnam War.

‘They got nothing out of me’

“They left me on the floor of a cell for four days, during which time I lapsed in and out of consciousness,” McCain said. “Their policy was that they wouldn’t provide any medical treatment unless you gave them military information. I would only give them my name, rank, serial number and date of birth. And so, after about four days on the floor of the cell, they got nothing out of me because I kept passing out.”

His captors eventually took him to a run-down hospital and operated on his knee, cutting most of his ligaments and cartilage, and placing his right arm in a chest cast. “The important thing they gave me was blood, ” he said. “I was in shock and they gave me transfusions, which gave me strength. But I wasn’t well-treated by the guards, who ate all my food and I slowly started getting worse.”

One afternoon, one of his interrogators appeared in his room and said, “‘The doctors tell me you aren’t getting well.’ I told him the only way I’d survive is if they put me in with some Americans,” he recalled. “That night they took me out of the hospital and put me in a cell with two other prisoners. Those two guys took care of me.”

After six months, the badly-injured flyer was able to walk with crutches—which inadvertently made life worse for him. “Letting them see I could walk was a mistake on my part,” he said. “They put me in solitary confinement for more than two years after that.”

McCain’s windowless ten-foot-by-ten-foot cell had a sheet metal roof that was transformed into a scorching oven in Hanoi’s sweltering summer heat. By mid-1968, his father was named commander of all U.S. Forces in Vietnam and his captors offered to send him home. Despite his desperation, McCain realized the gesture was purely a ploy meant to demoralize his fellow prisoners. After a bit of soul searching, he told the Vietnamese he was staying put and refused to leave the prison.

“They were astounded that I would refuse,” he said. “I’m not downplaying how difficult that decision was for me, but I did it because I thought I could survive—even though I was in pretty bad shape. But our code of conduct clearly states, ‘You do not accept parole. Sick and injured prisoners must be released first and others are to be released only by order of capture.”

Life got even more difficult after he spurned their offer. “After I refused to go home, they treated me pretty badly,” recalled McCain, who by then had begun suffering from dysentery and was being beaten every two hours in order to get him to sign confessions and make audio recording trashing America. “That was a pretty tough period. They were going after me pretty hard.”

In order to keep his sanity, McCain, like other POWs, took great risks tapping out messages to fellow prisoners on the prison walls. When caught, he paid a heavy price with additional beatings and removal to even worse prison camps. “I was put in another prison we called ‘The Plantation,’” he recalls. “And for seven or eight months I was sent to a really crummy prison outside of Hanoi for punishment that was known as ‘Skid Row.’”

‘Three things kept me going’

Despite the lack of food, recurring dysentery, his various injuries, and the uncertainty of when his next beating might occur, McCain managed to stay alive. “Three things kept me going,” he said. “Faith in God, faith in my fellow prisoners and faith in my country.

RELATED VIDEO: Meghan McCain Makes Emotional Tribute to Her Father While Fiercely Batting Back Twitter Trolls

Of his five and a half years in captivity, one event that has remained forever etched in McCain’s mind, he says, occurred in December 1972 when U.S. Air Force B-52 bombers roared over Hanoi and other parts of the country, and began dropping over 20,000 tons of explosives. “That’s when we knew one of two things,” he said. “Either we weren’t going to get out of there at all, or the war was reaching its conclusion.”

When he was finally released in March 1973, McCain earned the dubious distinction of being the most injured pilot to have survived the North Vietnamese prison camps. The ordeal, he insisted, didn’t impact him the way it did so many other former POWs from the Vietnam War. By 1982, he’d begun his political career and won a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“Unlike some, I was fortunate that I was able to put it all behind me when I came home,” he said. “People ask me how long did it take to readjust? It took me about 45 minutes. I never had a nightmare or a flashback or anything like that. I know a lot of my friends were not so fortunate, who never fully came back from that experience. But I did.”

His physical injuries are another matter. Asked if he still suffered pain from his various broken bones, McCain, whose injuries left him unable to raise his arms above his head, just shrugged. “Probably my shoulder hurts me more than my knee does,” he said. “I’ve definitely got some arthritis from the damage that was done. But I can get around fairly well. And I can always tell when it’s going to rain.”

With that, he flashed a mischievous grin and, in what seems ironic given the climate in Washington, D.C., of late, replied: “Luckily, in my line of work, there’s not a lot of heavy lifting.”

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101 Portraits Tell The Stories Of People Who Survived Gun Violence In America

One day while picking up her daughters from daycare, Shirley Justice was attacked by her ex-husband. She was shot 14 times, and she survived.

Since 2013, photographer Kathy Shorr has chronicled people like Justice, survivors of gun violence in America. In her portrait, Justice stands near a window wearing a bra, revealing the scars writ across her chest and stomach. The expression on her face reads as mournful, even incredulous, yet at peace. 

“Fourteen bullets entered my body that day,” Justice recalled in her interview with Shorr. “Fourteen bullets that ripped through every major organ and artery. Fourteen chances to die. ‘I will live for you,’ I promised my girls as I lay on the ground watching my ex-husband flee the scene.” 

Shorr’s photo book, simply titled Shot, features 101 portraits accompanied by interviews and descriptions of her subjects, all of whom survived instances of gun violence in America. Shorr first began thinking about the project after she and her daughter were held up at gunpoint during a home invasion.

Neither Shorr nor her daughter were physically injured during the encounter, but the experience and the subsequent emotional trauma left the artist agonizing over the thousands of Americans each year whose lives are irreparably changed by virtue of a loaded gun. 

According to CNN in 2016, there are more mass shootings in the U.S. than in any other country in the world. That same year, The New York Times reported that gun homicides are a common cause of death in America, killing about as many people as car crashes. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that between 2001 and 2014 alone, 440,095 people died at the hands of a firearm on U.S. soil.

“People don’t always think about the survivors,” Shorr told The Huffington Post. “Gun violence survivors are here and have a voice, a very important voice. They have experienced something that is kind of indescribable to someone that hasn’t experienced it.”

To begin her project, Shorr reached out to a man named Antonius, whose story she’d learned while listening to the NY1 news. She approached him on Facebook, they emailed back and forth and eventually met in person. After talking through the details, Shorr and Antonius returned to the Brooklyn street corner where he had been shot only seven weeks prior. Antonius took a Xanax to stay calm. 

The shoot, according to Shorr, was overwhelmingly positive. People from the community came by to shake Antonius’ hand. He pulled up his shirt and Shorr photographed his scar. Antonius told the photographer how cathartic it was to return to the site and take back the space. “At that point I realized this was a project I could really do,” Shorr said.

“I always saw it as a book,” she continued. “I just felt that once I started there was no turning back. Especially once I started talking to people and learning their stories, I felt an incredible amount of responsibility to complete the project.”

Shorr’s subjects adhere to no single age, gender, ethnicity, class or occupation. Their stories are equally as far-ranging. There is 8-year-old Taniya, accidentally shot by a fellow third grader who brought his father’s gun to school, and Greg, a Georgia-based police sergeant shot by a drug dealer during a bust. There are victims of robberies, domestic abuse, hate crimes and stray bullets. The physical impact of the violence manifests in wheelchairs, prosthetic aids, purple contusions or scars of gauzy flesh. The emotional impact the viewer can only attempt to imagine. 

Shorr describes her style as part street photography, part documentary portraiture. Some images zoom in on the physical residue of where bullet met flesh, while others are more straightforward portraits, focusing more on the person than the tragedy that shattered their sense of normalcy. Many photos were captured at the location where each subject was wounded, which the artist described as a way of saying, “You didn’t get me, I’m here.”

“The project was always meant to bring a face to an abstract situation,” Shorr said. “To show how gun violence affects everyone, not only certain groups of people. Anyone can be shot, anywhere. Many of the people in the project are gun owners themselves; one is even a member of the NRA.”

Shorr hopes her portrait series serves as a non-partisan foil to the polarizing shouting matches on the subject of gun violence. “It’s time to start talking about these issues so we can grow and learn from each other,” Shorr said. “When people can see both sides of an issue, and both sides have valid points, we can talk to each other rather than at each other. It’s not a black and white issue.”

Kathy Shorr’s Shot: 101 Survivors of Gun Violence in America is available now. On Thursday, April 13, Shorr will join Lyle Rexer for a discussion and book signing at Brooklyn’s Powerhouse Books. All captions were provided by the artist.

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

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When Life Was Unfair. How One Man Survived. And Learned How To Cope

When Life Was Unfair. How One Man Survived. And Learned How To Cope

Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; truth isn’t” is attributed to Mark Twain. Celebrities write autobiographies, not a man who grew up in a blue-collar family in Wichita, Kansas. The title of the book says it all, everything that happened just seemed to “come out of the blue”. In the “Wizard of Oz”, Dorothy was plucked from a farm in Kansas to a world that defied her wildest fantasies. Roberto Samores could relate to how Dorothy must have felt many times throughout his tumultuous life. When Roberto was in graduate school, he never dreamed of training top sales managers in an office tower that sits astride Madison Square Garden in New York City. No way could he have imagined managing a training department in the fastest-growing corporation in the Fortune 1000 on Route 128 (the “Massachusetts Miracle”) north of Boston. Addressing the crowd from the stage at trade shows in the largest exhibition halls in Chicago and Las Vegas was inconceivable. It was heady stuff! How could Roberto ever imagine that a “fairy tale wedding” at a country club near Boston was in his future? Dancing the night away in the clubs in Acapulco on his honeymoon seemed unreal to a boy from Kansas. Watching Diamond Head shrink in the distance on Captain Mondo’s catamaran was a once in a lifetime memory. Catching barracuda on a deep-sea fishing boat off Cancun was the thrill of a lifetime. Attending the musical “Evita” in New York City opened the door to the arts for a young man. As he grew up, all of this was the stuff of fiction! The exhilarating highs in his career and personal life were truly blessings. On the other hand, the tragic events in the movie “We Are Marshall” are a metaphor for the setbacks and deep lows that dogged Roberto throughout his life. How could he have ever thought that his soulmate and corporate career would disappear in the blink of an eye? How could all of this happen?The book chronicles one man’s journey through a

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Abbi and Ilana of Broad City Barely Survived Trump’s Inauguration

They released a profanity-laced video for the occasion.

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