Teen Girl Paralyzed By Gang Shooting Shares Inspiring Words At Middle School Graduation
PIX 11 News

A Brooklyn teen who was left paralyzed after being struck by a stray bullet intended for a rival gang member says she’s still coming out on top despite her setback.

14-year-old Tayloni Mazyck was only 11 when she got caught in the middle of a shootout between two rival gangs outside of her home in May of 2013. The injuries sustained from the bullet that hit her chin and damaged her spine left her paralyzed and wheelchair bound, but the bright-eyed survivor has pushed forward in spite of it all.

Football Player Will Receive Arthur Ashe Courage Award After Dying While Protecting Friends

Tayloni recently gave an inspiring speech at her graduation from New Design Middle School in Harlem on Monday, where she was proud to call herself a “fighter”. “I won today. Today I am a winner,” she said as her classmates responded with a standing ovation. “My mishap does not define me. It does not limit me, it just helps the fighter in me stay alive.”

Her mother Priscilla Samuel spoke briefly with the NYDN about Tayloni’s remarkable progress since the shooting. “She used to like to stay in the house, she was scared to go out,” Mazyck’s mother, Priscilla Samuel, told The News. “Now she’s going out with friends and everything. That’s the biggest change.”

Tayloni is set to attend NYC’s High School for Law, Advocacy and Community Justice this fall, with hopes of pursuing a career as a malpractice lawyer.

WANT MORE FROM ESSENCE? Subscribe to our daily newsletter for the latest in hair, beauty, style and celebrity news.