For any high school senior, graduation day is a huge milestone. It marks not only the end of over a decade of hard work, good times, and stress, it’s also the beginning of a whole new phase of life. For Balaal Hollings, it’s much, much more.
Hollings, who was an athlete, senior class president, and honor student, was trying to do something good when he attempted to break up a fight between classmates at a party. Instead, he was shot in the head. Now, two months later, he’s proud to have overcome enormous odds just to walk across the stage.
“It is so good to be alive,” he said during his big day. “I forgot a lot of things. I forgot how to walk. I forgot how to talk. I didn’t forgot how to eat.”
Hollings, who says he’s now rehabilitated, can’t finish his plans for the future because they included a football scholarship. Instead, he plans to focus on criminal justice. Before any of that, though, he had to get one thing out of the way: surprising his classmates.
“They don’t know I’m coming,” said Balaal before he walked into the ceremony.