With a crowd of family, friends and community members filling downtown Covington's Square, Sgt. Lakeia Nicole Stokes received a warm welcome back to Newton County Friday morning.
Stokes was a thought of as a sports hero in Newton County, leading the Newton County Comprehensive High School basketball team in many statistical categories and being listed among the top players in the nation.
To this day Stokes still stands as Newton High’s leading scorer.
After graduation, Stokes went on to star at Clemson where she became the only basketball athlete to lead the university in five categories — scoring, rebounding, blocked shots and assists.
After a brief professional basketball career, Stokes joined the U.S. Army. She trained at Fort Jackson, South Carolina for three years and then was stationed at Fort Hood, Texas.
Stokes then proved she was a true hero to all of America, not just Newton County, when she volunteered for a nine-month deployment tour in Afghanistan.
On Veteran’s Day 2016, Stokes was walking to the gym with other soldiers when she was injured by a suicide bomber. Sgt. Stokes received a Purple Heart from President Barack Obama on Nov. 29 while recovering at Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. President Obama also presented Stokes his presidential coin.
Stokes is still recovering at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas and will return home to Newton County Thursday, March 2. Newton County will celebrate Stokes’ bravery and homecoming on the Covington Square at 10 a.m. Friday, March 3.
Stokes continues to serve her country as a Human Resource Specialist in the U.S. Army, planning, enforcing employment standards, addressing personnel issues and managing a diverse range of employee-focused programs and processes.