CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - He took a bullet while trying to protect a stranger. Now, the Chesterfield teenager is embarking on a mission to help protect the country.
It's been nearly a year since 19-year-old Michael Dudley was shot while trying to break-up a domestic dispute. Dudley now calls the incident a blessing in disguise. The shooting has given him new a direction in life.
"My mentality toward things -- the way I thought -- like my decisions - at that point were different than before," said Dudley.
It was June 23, 2010 when Dudley saw a man beating a woman at a pizzeria in Chester. Dudley got involved.
"To me it still feels surreal -- like it didn't happen but of course it did happen," said Dudley.
Dudley took a bullet to the belly. Before the shooting the football standout earned a scholarship and was interested in going to college, graduating, and getting a job.
"I just took a step back and looked at my life and was like, hmm I don't know if I really want to do that anymore," said Dudley.
Now, he's pursuing a different path. Dudley left college and joined the Army last week.
"It will give me good structure to start my life as an adult, to go out there and do what I got to do," he added.
Dudley says he wants to help protect and save lives. He's looking forward to becoming a Special Forces Ranger.
"It took a while to get in because of my wound and stuff like that - we got it through finally. I'm official and I'm excited about going," said Dudley.
When asked if he regrets getting involved in that domestic dispute Dudley says, no way.
"It made me see things differently," he said.
Dudley will start basic training early next year. The man who shot Dudley, Richard Parker, is serving 30 years behind bars.