Detroit teen Balaal Hollings almost died two months ago after being shot in the head trying to break up a house party fight. Even if he lived, he wasn't supposed to walk or talk again.
Yet there was Hollings strolling across the stage in the Northwestern High School auditorium, donning his graduation gown and inspiring classmates at the 128-year-old school.
Wearing a protective cap and a patterned bow tie, with a tassel affixed to a helmet, Hollings appeared to raucous applause.
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The senior class president, student government president, homecoming king and football star shared words of encouragement.
"Only two months and I'm walking and talking and fully rehabilitated, so it got to be God," he said.
Though he lost a football scholarship to a college in Wisconsin, he kept his sense of humor.
"I always made a joke that when I graduated, I would moon walk across the stage," Hollins said from the stage. "Unfortunately, I can't do that, but I'm gonna get my stroll on."
The class of 2013 is the final one for the high school, which is closing after the year.
Hollings received a $50,000 scholarship, and plans to study pre-law or criminal justice.
"He made me cry today," one classmate told myFOXDetroit.
"Overwhelming. I was very happy to see him come out there," another said.
The most uplifting of Hollings' words had to do with his attitude toward the shooters.
"People always ask me what would you say if you met the person face-to-face who shot you? And I would tell them, 'I love you, and I forgive you,'" he told FOXDetroit.
Beyond the high school walls, those outside of Detroit were inspired by Hollings' tale.
"What a fantastic tale of faith and the will to not only survive but also to thrive in life," posted Jason Yoscovits on FoxDetroit.com.
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