Girl paralyzed in shooting gives inspiring speech at middle school graduation in Manhattan

Darla Miles Image
Wednesday, June 29, 2016
Young shooting victim gives inspiring speech at middle school graduation
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A young girl who's graduating with honors from New Design Middle School and has her sights set on her bright future was caught in the crossfire of gang violence three years ago. Darla Miles has the story.

NEW YORK -- Three years ago, a young girl was caught in the cross fire of gang violence near her apartment in Brooklyn.

The shooting left her paralyzed.

But today, Tayloni Mazyck is serving as an inspiration.

She's graduating with honors from New Design Middle School and has her sights set on her bright future.

"I was shot in the next and face by a stray bullet at the age of 11 years old," Tayloni said.

Getting shot and the neck and face is a pretty tough subject for an 8th grader.

"The last few years, I've been through a bunch of challenges, going back to school and being out of school," Tayloni said.

Talking about the 2013 shooting that permanently put Tayloni in a wheelchair was impossible just a year ago.

She planned to read a letter at the sentencing hearing for the convicted gunman Kane Cooper. But she was so rattled; her brother had to do it for her.

"Because of your actions I have known pain and endured more pain in my short life than most," said Daiquan Mazyck, Tayloni's brother.

It's a story she is using to inspire her classmates at New Design Middle School in Hamilton Heights.

Monday afternoon, the 14-year-old was the student speaker for commencement and graduating as a merit honor roll student.

"How much time did you put into your speech?" Eyewitness News asked.

"About two days," Tayloni said.

"How long was it?" Eyewitness News asked.

"Three pages," Tayloni said.

"Me and her prepared it together. She told me what she wanted to say and I feel that she came a long way because she was able to write about what happened to her without frowning and crying," said Priscilla Samuel, Tayloni's mother.

Next year, she's going to the High School for Law Advocacy and Community Justice.

"I want to be a lawyer. (Because of what happened to you?) Yeah," Tayloni said.

It's a goal Tayloni said she may have never dreamed of, without the support of her mom and middle school teachers.

"I won today. 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," Tayloni said.