When she was just 11-years-old, Tayloni Mazyck was struck by a stray bullet outside her family's Brooklyn home, an innocent victim of gang violence. She was left paralyzed, angry, despondent, and fearful of leaving the safety of her family's apartment for months after the incident. Three years later, however, the young teen has graduated middle school, and she's inspiring people with a powerful commencement speech.
In a video posted by PIX 11 on Tuesday, the now 14-year-old Mazyck addressed a packed auditorium as the featured speaker of her 8th-grade class at New Design Middle School in Manhattan.
"This student is on her way to success," counselor Tara Brown said in her introduction of Mazyck, adding, "A bullet from a gun could not stop her, therefore I'm very confident that the sky is the limit."
Taking the stage, Mazyck's message was one of perseverance and self-determination. "Believe that you can succeed, and you will," Mazyck said.
Understand that having problems is not an excuse to give up – just an opportunity to fight harder and win... 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.
This fall, Mazyck will attend the High School for Law, Advocacy and Community Justice. Pure black girl magic.
Watch excerpts from Tayloni Mazyck's speech above.