A goal met: Severely injured officer walks out of hospital with son

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DENVER -- Baby Antonio Lopez the Sixth was a week late, but his parents said he was worth the wait.

"I kept telling everyone it’s like waiting for Christmas when you’re like two. It was the longest wait ever. Now it’s time to take him home. I can’t wait just so excited," said his father, Denver Police Sgt. Tony Lopez Jr.

Lopez was shot and nearly killed during a traffic stop in December. Doctors told him he might never walk again, but he used that as motivation. He set a goal, and on Saturday, he reached it, walking out of the hospital, carrying his newborn son.

"It's amazing," Lopez said. "Makes everything awesome.”

"I don’t even know how to put it into words," said Lopez's wife, Kristen Lopez. "People always say it’s a love you never know. I’m like wow, I did not know my life wasn’t complete until he came. He’s just perfect. I love him more than I could ever thought love anybody.”

When Lopez was released from the hospital on New Year’s Eve, he said, “My wife`s pregnant and that's all I could think about was making sure I stayed awake so I could meet my baby.”

And he vowed to make a full recovery, saying, “I need this to come on quick because I need to walk my baby out, I'm going to walk my baby out of the hospital.”

A month later, he was promoted and crossed the stage on crutches. Then, on the home opener for the Rockies, he was on one crutch, throwing out the first pitch, all along, keeping his goal in mind.

"I finally ditched the crutches last week, which was huge because I said I was going to walk him out," Lopez said. "Blessed and excited to be able to do that.”

Kristen Lopez admits in the days after the shooting, she worried her husband would not make it to see this day.

"I tried not to let in my head," she said. "I knew there was a possibility. I don't think I broke down or lost it or anything like that because I had to stay strong.”

The Lopezes said they drew strength from the community, and all the people who sent donations and well wishes to their family.

“There's so many good people in the world. And that's the world he's coming into. That's really reassuring. Not from us, but the whole community. Such a lucky guy," Tony Lopez said.

Sgt. Tony Lopez Jr. and his newborn son

Sgt. Tony Lopez Jr. and his newborn son

Just days old, the proud parents have already discussed his future. When asked if they would allow him to be a police officer when he grows up, Tony Lopez said, “I think it would be cool to have three generations at the same PD. We'll see what he wants to do. We talked and we wouldn't shy away from it if that's what he wants to do. We'll find out early. I was 2 when I decided I wanted to do it. So we'll know in a couple of years.”

In the meantime, it’s one step at a time.

Lopez faces more surgeries and physical therapy. He wants to return to work full time later this year. And he said he wants to be able to run again.

"I want to teach him how to ride a bike, so I have to hold onto him and run down the block with him," Lopez said.

Doctors and experts might warn him that might not be possible, but Lopez uses that as motivation. He has the strength and determination to prove them wrong, just as he did by walking out of the hospital with his baby boy.