A teen who was paralyzed at age 4 has graduated middle school as valedictorian.
Photo: Image Source/Getty Images/Image Source
Photo: Image Source/Getty Images/Image Source

‘It’s a blessing:’ Teen paralyzed at age 4 graduates middle school as valedictorian

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In 2008, Mantrell Stevens was struck by a stray bullet fired by a gang in a Chicago neighborhood. On Tuesday, Stevens graduated at the top of his class at Wadsworth STEM Elementary School.

Related: Father and son graduate together, plan to continue their educations together in the fall 

He credits his success to that tragedy.

“It’s a blessing, it’s not a curse,” the now 13-year-old told WBBM-TV. “Now I’m finally realizing it happened for a reason.”

“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,” Mantrell said.

The bullet struck his spinal cord, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down. Now, he’s getting ready to attend a private boarding school in Boston, where he received a full scholarship.

“He’s a bright kid. Keeps a smile on his face. Always positive. He’s my motivation,”

Martrell’s mother, Lakeesha Rucker, said.

“You could always do what you put your mind to. If someone tells you you can’t do that, do it anyway, because you will never know if you don’t try,” Mantrell said.

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