AWESOME! 9 Years After Paralyzing Stray Bullet, Teen Graduates As Valedictorian

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Nine years ago, when Martrell Stevens was only five years old, he was a victim of gun violence that left him paralyzed from the waist down. But on Tuesday, he beat all the odds stacked against him and graduated as the valedictorian of his 8th grade class at Wadsworth STEM Elementary School in Chicago.

Even though many may see life paralyzed as a hinderance or curse, the 13-year-old said it’s nothing like that at all.

“It’s a blessing, it’s not a curse,” Martrell told CBS 2 Chicago.

He acknowledged it took him a while to reach that kind of understanding.

“Now I’m finally realizing it happened for a reason,” he said.

“That kind of humbled me, because when it happened, I was just a kid, but now I look on it now and I’m glad it happened,” he said.

His mother, Lakeesha Rucker, said she’s not surprised at her son’s attitude.

“That’s something that Martrell always say; God don’t make mistakes,” she said.

When Martrell couldn’t play on the school basketball team, he joined a wheelchair league.

“He’s a bright kid, keep a smile on his face, always positive. He’s my motivation,” Rucker said.

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In the aftermath of the shooting nine years ago, Stevens was like a baby, needing to relearn tasks like tying his shoes, his mother said. The rehab was painful and frustrating. At first, Martrell thought his caregivers were torturing him and he didn’t understand why. Once he realized they were there to help, he got with the program, she said.

At that point, “mornings that I would be still asleep, Martrell would be rolling around, going into…