Nearly a year after being beaten into a coma, Bryan Steinhauer said Wednesday he does not hate the Serbian basketball player witnesses said brutally assaulted him.
“I am not full of hate; hatred kills progress,” he said. Appearing alongside his parents and doctors at New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital, Steinhauer struggled to speak but his message was clear. “Please don’t feel sorry for me,” he said. “Tragedy leads to wisdom, and this experience has taught me so much about life.” The 22-year-old from Brooklyn was about to graduate and had a job lined up at accounting giant KPMG when he got into an argument last May that nearly cost him his life. According to police, witnesses said Steinhauer and college basketball player Miladin Kovacevic had exchanged harsh words at an upstate New York bar near Binghamton University after Steinhauer danced with the girlfriend of one of Kovacevic’s friends. The witnesses said the fight went outside the bar, where several men attacked Steinhauer, with Kovacevic beating him about the head, according to police. Kovacevic is 6-foot-9 and 260 pounds while Steinhauer was 130 pounds. Kovacevic was arrested but jumped bail and fled to Serbia with the help of Serbian consular officials in New York. The case strained relations between the United States and Serbia.Hillary Clinton intervened, first as U.S. senator from New York and later as secretary of state, as did Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York, to make sure Kovacevic was prosecuted. Serbia has no extradition treaty with the United States, but Serbian officials arrested Kovacevic last October and are working on prosecuting him with the assistance of the district attorney of Broome County, where the beating took place. In addition, the Serbian government recently paid the Steinhauer family $900,000 in recognition of the misconduct of Serbian government officials and the financial burdens placed upon the Steinhauer family as a result of the beating. Steinhauer awoke from his coma last August, three months after the beating that left him with skull fractures, a severe brain injury and no memory of the attack. He weighed less than 100 pounds, could not speak or walk, and was fed through a tube, doctors said Wednesday. “He had hemorrhages and contusions affecting almost every lobe of his brain,” said Dr. Brian Greenwald. Working with specialists and boosted by the support of his family, Steinhauer surprised even his doctors in his quick recovery, they said. He now has outpatient rehabilitation four times a week, goes to a gym, and receives acupuncture treatments. While he can eat on his own now and is making significant progress, Steinhauer continues to undergo intensive therapy. Steinhauer says he doesn’t think about Kovacevic because he’s not concerned about other people. “I’ve had a second birth and raising at Mount Sinai,” he said. “Live long and prosper.”