"Who wants to be in high school longer than they have to? And then college is the next chapter of your life," Gharbi told 9NEWS Crime and Justice Reporter Anastasiya Bolton.
Gharbi won't get to graduate with his class this spring. He is one of 58 survivors of the Century 16 movie theater shooting and doctors have not cleared him to go back to school.
9NEWS profiled his family July 27, a week after the shooting. Back then, the 16-year-old was in critical condition with a bullet in his head.
Several months later, Bolton got to meet the now 17-year-old in person.
When I first met Yousef's family seven days after the shooting, his mother Amee was too distraught to talk. His older sister, Katlyn, just 21 years old, had the responsibility and was brave enough to talk about her brother.
Yousef was just waking up after a week at the University of Colorado Hospital. He was in critical condition with a bullet in his head and shrapnel in his upper body.
On July 27, the family couldn't show me the extent of Yousef's injuries. It was too much. But they shared happy photos of the teen. So I'm not sure what I expected if I were ever to see him again.
I've interviewed a number of families whose loved ones survived the shooting and many families who lost people in the theater.
So when a tall, skinny guy in a ball cap walked into the Craig Hospital room, where we were waiting for our interview, it didn't even cross my mind it could be Yousef, until he introduced himself.
And then I had to hug him.
Yousef remembers going to the movies. He and a friend got there at 10 p.m. to watch the premiere. People were already in line. After the movie started, Yousef heard a popping noise.
"I didn't really think anything of it," he said. "[I] just thought it was some kids pulling a practical joke, so I kind of ignored it. [Then,] out of the corner of my eye, I saw the barrel light up when he took the first shot. I grabbed Louis and I pulled him down so neither of us would get shot."
His friend walked away unscathed. The next thing Yousef remembers is waking up in the hospital.
"I didn't feel any pain," he said. "That's why when I woke up in the hospital I hadn't thought I'd been shot."
"I got two pieces of shrapnel in my arm," Yousef described. "My arm has been the worst of all my injuries. I'm right handed and my right arm is what was injured. I've got a piece of shrapnel in the back of my throat, kind of close to my carotid artery. I've got a bullet fragment, half the bullet in my head. I've got another piece of shrapnel in my head, too."
Doctors told Yousef the bullet pieces in his head are going to have to stay there. The fragments are too risky to remove.
"I don't feel like there's a bullet in my head," Yousef said. "I personally feel mentally OK, smart still and everything. People die every day. If death is coming to you, it comes to you. I'm not really afraid to die. God has a plan."
As for the shooter, Yousef says he gets frustrated when his arm is not working right.
"I'm alive. I'm mad at him for attempting to kill me, but I pushed past that. I survived. Really he should be mad at me for surviving," he said.
"I'd like to say I'd like to see him die, but that's like bad, you know." Yousef added, "Why would you wish death on anybody? So I just wish he gets justice. It's an easier way of putting it. Nicer way of saying it."
LIFE AFTER THE SHOOTING
If you didn't know Yousef's story, you would not know he survived the deadliest shooting in Colorado history.
He's going to therapy at Craig Hospital to help him get stronger and help him move his right arm.
"Let's hope that's not too hard," he tells his physical therapist as she gets him on a Stairmaster. "It's awkward having the camera on you all the time."
Some of his exercises are easy and some basic ones are not. It's frustrating to a young, otherwise healthy 17-year-old.
Yousef goes to physical therapy several times a week. On this day, he joins a gym outside of Craig. He's learning how to do things on his own.
He's also taking on-line classes. It's a bit frustrating, he said, with not being able to go back to school.
What's next for him? The teen said he thought he had it all figured out, until he met the president.
"I had my mind set on [being a] teacher," he said. "After I met the president I wanted to work for him. I don't know if I want to work for Barack Obama or just the president in general."
Life for the 17-year-old has changed since the shooting.
"I plan carefully, you know. [I] don't do anything too crazy," he said. "I'm just grateful. Nothing else really matters. [It] gives you a whole new outlook on life when you almost die."
At the core, Yousef is still an optimist and still as funny as his sister said he was.
"I think I'm good-looking though," he said. "With that hat on, the [scars] are so small. I always wear a hat."
If you want to help with Yousef's medical costs, send your donations to: 1st Bank of Colorado under the name of Yousef Gharbi.
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