TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – This game day was unlike any other for Sonya Bryson-Kirksey. On this day, the national anthem singer for the Tampa Bay Lightning came home to the house of hockey, back with Bolts nation.

Sonya used one word to describe being back. Happy.

“I’m very happy to see everybody, happy to be back with my team, happy to be back in the building,” Sonya told 8 On Your Side.

Fans went crazy when they saw her face inside Amalie Arena as her big smile, the signature Bolts blue lipstick, and most of all, that stunning voice – a voice she nearly lost, along with her life while battling COVID-19 was back.

Bryson-Kirksey was hospitalized for 30 days, most of it in the intensive care unit.

“I could feel the prayers lifting me, the thing was, I had to pray for myself as well. I think at the end of the day, the prayers got me where I needed to be,” she said.

When Sonya began singing the national anthem at the Lightning home opener Tuesday night, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house, including her own. In the end, Coach John Cooper and Lightning players might have some competition because her standing ovation brought the house down.

“It was so wonderful to see her back, it was a very emotional performance, I know I got a little teary,” said Marcella Benner, a longtime Bolts fan.

Sonya says she is doing well, not quite at 100 percent, but feeling much, much better.

For those who heard her voice inside the arena Tuesday, it was as if a day hadn’t passed, a voice so strong, so might, so powerful – just as sweet months as it was months ago.

Bryson-Kirksey says, after beating COVID-19, she is filled with gratitude. She wants everyone to know just how much she appreciates the prayers, the support and most of all – the love.

“Thank you so much for praying for me,” she said, “For caring for me, thank you so much!”



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