The photo of Adbusalamov with his family is bittersweet. He sits in his wheelchair, head cocked to the side, while his wife and two daughters surround him, clearly beaming in his presence.
It's also clear that the man in the picture is not the same man who entered a boxing ring 10 months ago. He stares blankly into the distance instead of into the camera or back into the joyous faces of his family.
An ESPN Outside the Lines feature fills in the details of where Mago has been, where he is now, and what the future may look like. He can move his left arm and leg while the right side of his body remains paralyzed. He can't speak but has found ways to communicate simple thoughts. After losing nearly 75 pounds—at which point the former heavyweight prospect would have been a middleweight—he's gained about half of that weight back.
Dr. Rupendra Swarup, medical director of the department of neurosurgery at New York's Mt. Sinai Roosevelt Hospital, supervised Mago's hospital care. He summed up the situation this way:
"The improvement has been encouraging, in light of his condition at the time of his surgery," he said. "According to studies, what you see 18 months after such a brain injury is what you get the rest of your life," said Swarup. "Clearly he's gotten better in 10 months and he may regain some function he doesn't have now. It's not a linear progression and where it will plateau, we don't know."
Mago's wife Bakanay said when her husband was first in the hospital, he didn't recognize her or their daughters. But, "now he is smiling and happy about going home and he can kiss and hug the girls. He's come a long way."
Here's hoping his recovery path has just begun.