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Author turns a personal story into a motivational message.

Gabriel Tuggle had more than the proverbial brush with death. For several weeks in 1991, the 51-year-old Dunwoody resident was locked in a battle that few people believed would end happily.

Then a senior at Newton High, Tuggle was at a neighborhood hangout when an offhand remark (that he won’t repeat) infuriated another teen who shot Tuggle in the head with a 44-caliber gun.

“I was in surgery for hours, and the doctors told my mom they didn’t think I would make it,” he says. “The odds were stacked against me, and I was pretty much written off.”

Tuggle pulled through the worst but spent almost three months in the hospital. Unable to walk, talk or feed himself, he also had memory issues that turned his family members into strangers. When he was finally sent home, the hospital staff lined up to applaud his persistence and determination. But while Tuggle survived, his dreams of being a pro athlete were dead.

“I was blessed with amazing athletic skills that parents and coaches recognized at an early age,” he says. “I put in a lot of hard work and played football and baseball, and ran track. When other kids were playing, I was training. I ate, breathed and slept sports—and I was having fun.”

After the shooting, Tuggle funneled that same determination into getting his life back. He won that battle, graduating from high school and attending DeKalb Community College. He moved through a series of jobs until 2000 when he trained in IT and began working in warehousing logistic operations. He’s built a 30-year career in that field but last year carved out time to write a book, Stronger than a Speeding Bullet.

“For years, I had a nagging idea to write the book,” he says. “I started writing in 2016, found an editor in 2020 and went from there.”

What kept him going was the belief that his unique story could connect with others going through difficult times.

“I wanted others to know that no matter what you’re going through, it’s not over. The gifts you were blessed with are inside of you, and we all have purpose. I felt the book could help people by encouraging and inspiring them to never give up.”

Along with managing a full-time logistics job, Tuggle spends time sharing his message with school groups, sports teams, corporations, churches and conferences.

“Everybody’s going through something, and I know that my story can help a lot of people,” he says. “I was near death, and they wrote me off. All the odds were against me. But what I’m doing now is delivering the message that you’ve got to believe.”

PHOTO: Joann Vitelli

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