Jenifer Lewis Fights Tears Discussing Her Near-Fatal Accident in Africa

Jenifer Lewis couldn't hold back her emotions during Friday's episode of The Tamron Hall Show as she tearfully recalled her recent near-death experience. The Black-ish star, 67, appeared on the daytime show to share the story of her recovery after falling 10 feet off of a balcony while on vacation in Africa in 2022.

"In Nairobi when they asked me to walk, you know the parallel bars? I couldn't remember how to walk," she said, holding back tears. "I couldn't remember how to put one foot. I didn't even... I couldn't remember what to do! He said, 'Mum, mum, you must walk here now. Come. Walk here.' I was like, 'How do you do that?'" 

It was through pure willpower that Lewis ultimately was able to overcome her physical limitations. "I sat down in the wheelchair and I sobbed and I heard myself say, 'You'll get up. You'll get up and you'll walk, or I'll kill you myself,'" she told Tamron Hall. "'Now get up. Get up. You get up and you walk. Come on baby.' And I walked."

The Broadway legend previously shared her harrowing story in an interview with ABC News' Robin Roberts last month. Lewis said that in November 2022, she and her friends had checked into their hotel in the Serengeti and were having a great time before she fell from her room's private pool area at night into a boulder-filled ravine 10 feet down. Laying in the dark and in pain, Lewis told Roberts she thought she would die then. "I didn't know you could be in that much pain and be alive," she said. "I went from that high kick standing on my star at the Hollywood Walk of Fame, five months later, I was on the ground of the Serengeti and that same leg couldn't move."

Hearing lions' roars nearby, Lewis joked, "My last thought, because I'm Jenifer Lewis, was 'What a headline! The King Ate the Queen: Pieces of Jenifer Lewis' Body Is Being Flown Back to the States.'" Ultimately, a Doctors Without Borders team airlifted Lewis to Aga Khan University Hospital in Nairobi, where it was determined that she had fractured her acetabulum. After a nine-hour surgery, the socket of her hip bone was repaired, and Lewis remained in the ICU for six days. When she was ultimately deemed stable, Lewis was flown back to the U.S., where she spent four days at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles before being transferred to the California Rehabilitation Institute for two weeks.