Graduations by their very nature are emotional, but a high school ceremony in Detroit this week was absolutely chilling. It was just about two months ago, on April 6, when senior Balaal Hollings was shot in the head. No one thought he would be there.
According to ABC, the football star and senior class president of Northwestern High School was shot while trying to break up a fight at a birthday party for a friend. Just like that, it looked like his promising future could come to a screeching halt. No one knew if he would ever walk or talk again.
He spent two weeks in a hospital, and then was transferred to a rehab facility. His sister, Nuballa Hollings, who has helped raise him after his mother died two years ago, said he fought so hard, and surprised everyone with his will to recover
Still, no one thought he'd be able to attend the school's graduation this Tuesday. When he learned he was able to, he kept it a secret until the big day. "It was kind of hard," he told ABC, "I've got a big mouth. I wanted to say something, but I didn't."
But oh was it worth it. As students were buzzing about, waiting for the ceremony to begin, they saw him walk out on the stage. The place went wild, and he got a standing ovation as he took to the microphone and gave an amazing speech, which he says he just "winged" while he was up there.
First of all, I want to thank God. It is so good to be alive. I got shot in the head, and I am fully rehabilitated.
I forgot a lot of stuff. I forgot how to walk. I forgot how to talk. I didn't forget how to eat!
I'm sure there were few dry eyes in the place. What a powerful message to all of these young people as they head out in to the world of just how quickly life can change, and how when faced with adversity, you have to be willing to fight it with everything you have.
While he still has some work ahead of him in outpatient therapy, he's planning for his future and will begin college in January. I'm sure that future will be extremely bright.
What's the most moving graduation ceremony you've ever attended?
Image via ABC News