Tayloni Mazyck is the victim of a stray bullet that paralyzed her — but she refuses to feel victimized.
That was Tayloni’s message at her graduation ceremony on Monday for the New Design Middle School in Harlem, reports the New York Daily News.
“I won today. Today I am a winner. My mishap does not define me. It does not limit me, it just helps the fighter in me stay alive,” the honor roll student said, as faculty and classmates gave her a standing ovation.
Tayloni, 14, has maintained her positive attitude toward life since getting shot three years ago.
A 17-year-old gangbanger, who intended to shoot a rival gang member, struck Tayloni while she was standing outside her home in Brooklyn. The bullet went through her neck and lodged in her spine.
Tayloni, then 11, was determined never to quit. “She’s saying she wants to walk — and that’s what’s encouraging to me. She believes she’s going to walk again,” her mother told The News after the shooting.
Though Tayloni remains wheelchair bound, she has made significant progress in her life since then. Tayloni’s mother told the newspaper that she was shy and afraid to leave their home after the shooting. But she now goes out with her friends. And her father overflowed with pride when he talked about how wonderful Tayloni looked on prom night.
In the fall, Tayloni will attend the High School for Law, Advocacy and Community Justice. She plans to become a malpractice lawyer, The News said.
The police arrested Kane Cooper shortly after the shooting, NBC News reported. He pleaded guilty to first-degree assault and is serving a 17-year prison sentence.