High School Senior Walks At Graduation Ceremony After Being Paralyzed

A video of a local high school graduate walking at high school graduation several years after being paralyzed by a football injury is going viral. He joins KDKA to talk about the positive feedback he has been receiving.

Video Transcript

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- New at 7:30, what a local high school student did at graduation is going viral. It's the video right there. Hayden Hamilton walking at his Laurel High School graduation this past weekend. Now, this is a major accomplishment after he suffered a spinal cord injury, paralyzing him during a football game back in 2018. The video shared on Twitter by "Post-Gazette" reporter Mike White has gone viral now and is even getting some love from Hollywood. Hayden joins me now live over Zoom to talk about this absolutely inspirational story. Hayden, thanks so much for joining us tonight.

HAYDEN HAMILTON: Hey, no problem. Thanks for having me.

- So what was that like? I mean, what stirring images there. What was going through your mind and your heart?

HAYDEN HAMILTON: I mean, at the moment, it was kind of like-- it was just crazy. I couldn't think of how loud that stadium really was when it was going crazy just because of how quiet it was when I got hurt. Because when I got hurt, you could hear a pin drop in the stadium. It was-- no one was saying a word. But when I stood up to walk, everyone standing and cheering, it was just like the complete opposite. Pretty cool.

- Yeah, all of that applause and you can see in the video there all of the support at the moment. But the love kept on going even after that online. So before we talk about the celebs, what kind of messages are you getting just from average everyday people, strangers, from across the world?

HAYDEN HAMILTON: I mean, definitely a lot of support. A lot of people let me know that my hard work is kind of feeding into their hard work and I love that, you know, because I don't go to therapy to inspire people. But that as a side effect has just been crazy and I appreciate all the support from everybody. It's been awesome.

- Yeah. And speaking of support from Ryan Shazier to Mark Wahlberg, famous names taking notice too. We actually did a story on you back in September. Tell me about the conversation with Mark Wahlberg.

HAYDEN HAMILTON: Well, back then it was just from-- I had used his performance-inspired protein and he saw I was wearing his t-shirts at therapy, and was just letting me know that seeing me work hard also inspired him. And that talk was cool, especially coming from someone like that who wakes up 4:00 in the morning just work out every day and then go shoot how many movies. And for him to give me a shout out, it was awesome.

- Yeah. Taking the time to make that connection, and Shazier, as well. You heard from him?

HAYDEN HAMILTON: Yeah. I mean, he's been there since literally the night I got hurt. He gave me that call and told me how doctors told him the same exact things that I was being told and that, obviously, he's just insane or he's made progress. And it just kind of set an example early on and talking to him throughout the process definitely helps keep my head straight and things like that. I always appreciate having him.

- Yeah, we can tell you're a sports fan, all the jerseys there behind you. Finally, tell us about, speaking of doctors, tell us about the progress that you're making. What are doctors saying about your prognosis now?

HAYDEN HAMILTON: I mean, right now, I walk every day with braces and a walker when I go to therapy. And I did pretty well getting this speed down. Actually, the walk at graduation was kind of tough under the conditions, sitting in my braces forever. But it's been going really good. My dexterity in my hands is better because, I was tough at first, but I basically just try to work on getting something that I've wanted.

- Well, Hayden, keep it up. And thank you so much for inspiring all of us with that video.

HAYDEN HAMILTON: Thanks.

- And congratulations on your graduation.

HAYDEN HAMILTON: Thanks again. I appreciate it.

- All right.