Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett
South Florida kicker Maikon Bonani, who suffered a broken vertebrae after falling about 35 feet from an amusement park ride last month, visited Bulls practice for the first time today. Bonani, who was wearing a brace around his torso, spoke with reporters afterward, and you can watch the video here.
"I missed it," he said. "Laying in bed wasn't fun."
Bonani recounted his harrowing accident on July 19 at Busch Gardens. He worked there as a ride attendant and grabbed onto an unlocked gondola as it was taking off.
"It was more instinct than anything," he said. "People can look at it both ways, whether it was my fault or a failure. At the time, no one would know what to do in that situation."
Bonani knew the ride took 2 1/2 minutes before it reached another station, so he decided to wait until the gondola passed a rocky area and went over a patch of grass.
"The thing was just going to get higher," he said. "If I took the chance, I might have slipped. My hand could have slipped and I could have fallen from higher, onto concrete and on top of people."
He said he thought he'd be able to walk away from the fall. He braced for impact by landing feet-first and said the pain after that "was just broken-bone pain."
"I laid there and made sure I could move my fingers and toes and all that," he said.
Bonani will have to wear the brace for three months, which means he would not be able to kick until late October or early November at the earliest. His plan is to redshirt this year unless the Bulls really need him late in the year.
He said he talks to senior kicker Delbert Alvarado, his likely replacement, almost daily. And he intends to be around practices and all of the home games this season.
"I'm going to be a great support to the guys," he said.