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Balaal Hollings

Two months after being shot in the head, a Detroit high school student surprised his classmates by walking across the stage during his graduation ceremony.

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Fox 2 News reports that Balaal Hollings was senior class president, student government president, homecoming king and a football star at Northwestern High School before trying to break up a fight at a house party on April 6. Hollings’ attempt at being peacemaker ended with him being shot in the head. He would not return to finish his senior year.

But Hollings earned had enough credits to earn his diploma and decided to attend the ceremony. His recovery is remarkable, given that doctors did not expect him to walk or speak again. His classmates certainly were not expecting to see him anytime soon–especially at graduation.

“They don’t know I’m coming,” Hollings told Fox 2 this week as he got out of a car outside the Millenium Centre in Southfield, Mich. “They think I’m dilapidated.”

He proved them wrong when he walked the stage, evoking tears, cheers and screams from the audience before addressing them.

Listen to some of Hollings’ remarks below:

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Though the shooting resulted in Hollings losing his football scholarship, he was presented a $50,000 scholarship at the ceremony. The former star athlete hoped to play in the NFL, but said God has another plan for him. “I’m going to take pre-law or criminal justice,” he said.

Speaking of justice, Hollings is not upset at the man who ended his sports career.

“People always ask me what would you say if you met the person, face-to-face, who shot you? And I would tell them, ‘I love you, and I forgive you,'” he said.

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