“Having problems is not an excuse to give up. Just an opportunity to fight harder and win.”
Those are some incredibly mature and moving words, especially when you realize they were spoken by a teenager. Fourteen-year-old Tayloni Mazyck delivered those words to her classmates as the featured speaker at her graduation from Harlem’s New Design Middle School on Monday.
In 2013, Tayloni was standing outside of her home in Brooklyn when a 17-year-old gang member fired at a rival gang member and shot Tayloni in the chin. The spine ended up in her spine, leaving her paralyzed.
Pix 11 visited then-11-year-old Tayloni in her hospital bed after the shooting. A video shows her distraught and crying into the camera as she says,”I don’t want to talk about it.”
But in an incredible show of resiliency for such a young person, Tayloni didn’t let her situation have the last word.
“I won today,” Tayloni said in her graduation speech, as reported by Pix 11. “Today I am a winner.”
In the fall, Tayloni will be attending High School for Law, Advocacy and Community Justice in Harlem. She hopes to become a lawyer as a direct result of her own experiences.
Tayloni’s mother couldn’t be more proud, telling Pix 11, “Whatever she can do, she can do it in this chair.”
Check out the footage from Tayloni’s graduation here: