‘I won today’: Brooklyn teen paralyzed by stray bullet gives empowering speech

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MORNINGSIDE HEIGHTS, Manhattan — When Tayloni Mazyck was 11 years old, she was caught in the crossfire in front of her Brooklyn home in 2013.

It was hard for her to imagine where her life would go. But she did not give up and Monday she graduated from the 8th grade on the merit roll. She was also the featured speaker at the graduation ceremony.

“A bullet from a gun could not stop her,”  school counselor Tara Brown said as she introduced Tayloni.

There was a standing ovation for Tayloni at the New Design Middle School in Harlem before she spoke.

“I won today. Today I am a winner,” she said.

Tayloni went from being scared to go outside to overcoming her fears and going back to school.

“Having problems is not an excuse to give up. Just an opportunity to fight harder and win,” she said.

Tayloni was paralyzed when a 17-year-old gang member fired at a rival. The bullet pierced her chin and ended up in her spine.

The family moved to Harlem and after a few months of home schooling, Tayloni decided to go back to school with her peers.

“In the last few years, I have been through a bunch challenge,” she said.

In the fall, Tayloni will attend the High School for Law, Advocacy and Community Justice. She wants to become a lawyer.

Her mother, Priscilla Samuel, couldn’t be prouder. She said her goal was to make sure she understands “…whatever she can do, she can do it in this chair,” Samuel said.

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