Ashli Sims, News On 6
TULSA, Oklahoma -- Most high school seniors just have to worry about passing their classes to make it to graduation. But one Tulsa teenager had to make a tough choice to be able to wear his cap and gown.
Most of 2011's East Central graduates marched into the Mabee Center, one of them rolled.
"Everything's kinda like a dream to me. I'm here but not here, especially with them glasses I had on," said East Central graduate Kejuan Taylor.
A bit of a jokester and well-liked, Kejuan's path to this stage is far from typical. He was an eighth-grader, an athlete the night his life changed forever.
"I was sitting on the couch watching TV and my brother pulled out his gun and it went off and hit me... in the neck," he said. "When I got shot I told them I was paralyzed, I didn't know what it meant, but I said it."
The bullet nearly severed his spinal cord, paralyzing him from the neck down. And the word he didn't even know the meaning of at the time redefined his life.
He spent weeks in the hospital and got his first set of wheels just a month after the shooting...already defying doctor's diagnosis.
Since then, they've been split on whether he'll walk again.
"One said I will, one said I wouldn't, like incomplete and complete. But I didn't go off what they say anyway," Kejuan said. "I feel like I know not more than them, but more about my body than them."
Kejuan says he's got feeling in his legs and he has some movement in his fingers and toes. It's enough to bring tears to his mother's eyes, but he has no patience for it.
"I cry because you accomplished a lot," said his mother. "The average child would have never done it and would've given up."
"I don't see why you were crying," he told his mother. "I still don't see why. It doesn't fix nothing. That's why I don't do it."
He's too focused on the goal... get stronger and get walking.
"I don't look at it as being hard, I just know I gotta do it," Kejuan said. "But I gotta use it or lose it. You gotta keep moving, gotta be in therapy."
Kejuan was so absent from East Central High School he almost didn't make it to the Mabee Center. He says at one point he had to make a choice between going to therapy to walk again and going to school to graduate.
"I feel I got a lot of chance to walk so. School, I already in it. So go ahead and finish it," he said.
It took an extra year and he wasn't able to walk across that stage, but he did get his high school diploma and make his mother one of the proudest parents in the room.
"He's inspired me to keep going, when I wanted to give up. and I look at him and I just say thank God," said Kejuan's mother.
Kejuan is getting a jumpstart on college, starting classes in a few weeks. He wants to study biology.