On June 7, 2014, an 18-wheeler driven by a Walmart truck driver who hadn’t slept in 28 hours collided with Tracy Morgan’s limo-van, killing Morgan’s friend James McNair, severely injuring three other passengers, and placing Morgan in a coma that would last eight days. A brutal legal battle ensued with Walmart, eventually ending in a settlement. Due to the brain injuries he suffered from the accident, doctors weren’t sure if Morgan would ever perform again. Slowly, surely, and bravely, Morgan has made his way back to doing what he loves, making his first television appearance post-accident with an emotional interview on Today. He dropped in on the Comedy Cellar in Manhattan last October, surprising the audience with a brief set—his first standup performance since the accident. He returned to Saturday Night Live. He is set to star in a movie with Charlie Day and Ice Cube and will executive produce and star in a new comedy project at FX alongside Key & Peele’s Jordan Peele. He is also set to headline day one of The A.V. Club’s comedy festival this summer.
Brian Hiatt at Rolling Stone recently spent time with Morgan in the days leading up to the first show in his lineup of North American tour dates. Morgan is candid and emotionally raw in the interview, talking about how he contemplated suicide in the aftermath of the accident and the guilt he used to feel. In dark moments, one of the songs he used to listen to was the jazz theme from Taxi. He talks about moving forward with his comedy career. He also talks about his pet octopus and sharks, which sound like they have a pretty strict feeding schedule.
Though Tracy jokes that he turned away from heaven’s white light because he “thought it was the police,” he’s pretty sure that it was his dad who sent him back to Earth.
“He was the one who said, ‘Go home, son. I ain’t ready for you yet,’” says Morgan. “I don’t think I cheated death. I think this was the plan. My room wasn’t ready.” He would have left behind Megan, Maven and his three kids from his first marriage, who range in age from 24 to 30. “I still have shit here to do,” Morgan says. “It’s gonna take more than 18 wheels for me to get out of here. I have to raise my girl, raise my wife, raise my family.” Exotic pets, too. “Gotta keep my octopus alive. Gotta keep my sharks alive. Those are God’s creatures! I’m needed!”
The interview will also be featured in the April 7 print issue of Rolling Stone.