“I can’t believe I’m here,” a teary-eyed Tracy Morgan said on NBC’s Today show set this morning, marking one year since the traffic accident that left him hospitalized and killed his friend and colleague James, “Jimmy Mac” McNair. Morgan told Matt Lauer he still has no memory of the accident, has his “good days and my bad days.”
Morgan intends to get back to work as soon as possible.”I love comedy. I’ll never stop loving her. I love comedy and I can’t wait to get back to her, but right now my goal is just to heal and get better. Cause I’m not 100% yet… and when I’m better, you’ll know it. I’ll get back to making you laugh. I promise you,” he told Lauer.
This week marks a year since the New Jersey turnpike crash left the actor/comic hospitalized and killed McNair, as the two were leaving an engagement in Delaware that was part of Morgan’s “Turn it Funny” comedy tour. The legal battle between Wal-Mart and Morgan appears to be over as a result of the proposed confidential settlement pounded out by attorneys for the parties; a motion put before the court to seal certain documents referred to “confidential settlement negotiations and the confidential final settlement amounts” between Morgan’s camp and Wal-Mart. Morgan said he’s had his “ups and downs” since the accident, adding, “The case is settled, but the pain is always going to be there for Jimmy Mac…he was close friend of mine… He was a loving man, he was a warm man. He was a good man. It just hurts me to see that he’s gone — that’s it.”
“You are a sight for sore eyes,” Lauer said, as Morgan teared up.
Morgan’s fiance and baby daughter usually accompany him on the road, but they’d stayed home that night because the little girl was teething. Last time he remembers seeing McNair, Morgan said, he’d just delivered a Donald Sterling joke McNair wrote for him, “and I saw Jimmy there…laughing, and that was the last time I seen him alive. “
He said he discovered McNair had died when he came out of a coma. “When I got home it really hit me.” He said he watched the accident repeatedly on Youtube and one day came across video of McNair’s funeral, after which “I lost it for about a week.”
Asked why he would want to re-live the accident via YouTube, Morgan responded, “I had to know what happened to my friend, and I had to pay my respects and that was my way.”
Scars on Morgan’s head were visible; the actor said when he first came out of a coma he was “a mess” and would curse at his nurse every day and throw things at her. When he went back to visit the hospital later, he said he grabbed her “and wouldn’t let go, and said ‘I’m sorry’.”
In a statement issued last Wednesday, Wal-Mart U.S. CEO Greg Foran said, “Our thoughts continue to go out to everyone that was involved in the accident.” The incident saw the limo carrying the 30 Rock alum, McNair and two others struck by a Wal-Mart truck on the highway. McNair was killed almost instantly while Morgan suffered a head injury as well as a broken leg and various broken ribs.
“I’m happy Wal-Mart stepped up to the plate in a tremendous way and took full responsibility,” Morgan told Lauer this morning. “I’m really happy they looked out for Jimmy Mac’s family; I know he can rest in peace now.”
He thanked many people who had helped him the night of the accident and since. His lawyer jumped in to make sure viewers knew the Wal-Mart CEO was going to meet with Morgan personally, calling that “a huge gesture.”
On July 11 last year, Morgan sued the retail giant claiming that they were aware that tractor-trailer driver Kevin Roper had been up for over 24 hours straight when he smashed into their limo after falling asleep at the wheel of his vehicle. Wal-Mart reached a settlement with McNair’s children earlier this year. “While we know there is nothing that can change what happened, Wal-Mart has been committed to doing what’s right to help ensure the well-being of all of those who were impacted by the accident,” Foran added in his statement issued last week.
Roper still faces criminal charges; he has pleaded not guilty.