What to Know
- Tayloni Mazyck was 11 years old when she was struck in the throat by a stray bullet outside her Brooklyn home in 2013
- Despite battling PTSD and depression from the shooting that left her paralyzed, she graduated middle school with honors Monday
- The gunman in the shooting was sentenced last year to 17 years in prison
A Brooklyn girl who became paralyzed three years ago when she was shot while outside her family's apartment building is celebrating a huge victory.
Tayloni Mazyck, now 14, graduated from her middle school in Harlem with honors, at the top of her class, despite having had to battle depression and PTSD from the night she was struck in the neck by a stray bullet outside her Bedford-Stuyvesant apartment building in June 2013.
She also spoke at the commencement ceremony Monday and shared her story about how much she's overcome.
"Believe that you can succeed, and you will," she said. "Understand that having problems is not an excuse to give up -- just an opportunity to fight harder and win," Mazyck told her classmates while in a wheelchair.
"I won today," she said. "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."
Mazyck, then 11, was waiting for her aunt outside her home when a stray bullet pierced her throat, ricocheting down her spine before lodging in her back. She was about to graduate from the fifth grade at the time.
Kane Cooper was sentenced to 17 years in prison last year in the shooting. Prosecutors said he had been aiming at members of a rival gang.