MIAMI – After being shot three years ago, Aaron Willis promised himself that he'd walk again. He did Wednesday.
The 18-year-old walked across a stage to a round of applause from his graduating class at Booker T. Washington High School.
"It could have been very easy for me to give up and just say forget everything, but I stuck in there and I never gave up," Willis said.
Willis was able to celebrate his graduating high school for a few minutes without the use of his wheelchair with the help of the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis.
Willis' father cheered in awe as his son received diploma.
Willis considers himself lucky to be alive after he was shot while riding his bike in Wynwood three years ago. The bullet severed his spine.
Karen Fryd provided the family emotional and financial support following the incident and made sure Willis never missed a doctor’s appointment.
"They're just the nicest, nicest family and it’s a pleasure to be a part of that," Fryd said.
Local 10 News has followed Willis' story from his hospital bed, his grueling therapy and return to school. In April, he talked about the importance of never giving up during the Local 10 News My Future, My Choice town hall special.
That positive message was instilled in him by his father.
"You might be hurting, but that don't even matter. You still have the mind of a Willis," Sam Willis told his son.
Willis now heads off to Florida International University, where he plans to study psychology and marketing.
"Aaron is a reflection of everything that has gone wrong and everything that can be made right," Superintendent of Miami-Dade Public Schools, Alberto Carvahlo, said. "Aaron is the kind of young man that anybody wants to have as a son."