Senior shot: Graduation for injured athlete a surprise for students

A shot senior's graduation went off without incident, inspiring his classmates with the speed of his recovery.  Balaal Hollings, a senior, was shot in the head two months ago at a birthday party. 

Add another line to this high school graduate's resume – survivor. 

This teen, shot in the head at a party two months ago, recovered in time to take part in his high school graduation. Balaal Hollings, 18, was told by his doctors that showing up at his graduation was not possible, that his recovery wouldn't be complete in time to watch his classmates receive their diplomas and toss their mortarboard's in the air.

Obviously, the underestimated Hollings.

How'd he do it? Maybe he looked back on his high school career, one filled with athletic prowess, a homecoming crown, leadership roles, a college scholarship, and decided that the injury was just one more obstacle to tackle. He credits divine intervention. 
"First, I want to thank God. I got shot in the head and I am fully rehabilitated," Mr. Hollings, speaking behind the lectern, said to his gown-donned classmates sitting in the Millenium Center Auditorium in Southfield, Mich., north of Detroit

Video of the event, shot by Detroit's ABC Channel 7, showed tears shed by those attending, stunned that he'd made it this far in the two months after the incident.

On April 6, Hollings had attended a party celebrating his best friend's birthday.

"I had missed her dinner, so I promised to make it to the party," Hollings told "After the party, some East Side boy was shooting for no reason. A bullet hit the wall, and then it hit me."

He spent two weeks in the hospital and the rest of the time between then and graduation was reserved for rehabilitation.

"I forgot a lot of things. I forgot how to walk. I forgot how to talk. I didn't forget how to eat," Hollings, outfitted with a special helmet, complete with tassel, for the occasion, told his classmates. 

Hollings, due to the accident, is not going to pursue his athletic scholarship, but will instead use the $50,000 in academic scholarships (whoa!) to study criminal justice. 

of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Unlimited digital access $11/month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.