CHICAGO - A year ago, Tavon Tanner was shot while playing on the front porch of his family's home on Chicago's West Side.
Now, the 11-year-old is talking about his recovery. It's been a long road, but looking at Tavon today, you would never know it.
About to start 6th grade, Tavon's family says he is back to his normal self. Tying balloons to her son's chair, Mellanie Washington invited friends and family to celebrate Tavon's life on Tuesday. He knows how lucky he is.
Boy critically injured in West Side shooting
"If God wouldn't have blessed me, I would have been in a cemetery right now," Tavon said.
One year ago, Tavon was shot by stray bullets while by playing on the porch of his home. He remembers the incident vividly.
"Everyone was in the house panicking. My twin kept yelling at me, 'Don't leave me, twin!'" he recalled.
Tavon's twin Taniyah was born 20 minutes after her older brother. The pair have been inseparable since birth. Holding his hand while waiting for help to arrive, Taniyah was not going to let go - and neither was Tavon.
"I told him I loved him and gave him a kiss on the cheek," Taniyah said. "He probably don't want to leave, because I'm another part of him."
Officer who helped save boy speaks out
With the help of Chicago Police Sgt. Bryan Topczweski, who helped apply pressure on the scene to stop internal bleeding, Tavon made it to the hospital. Several of his organs were injured. During the past year, Tavon has endured eight surgeries. His mother credits God and Tavon's strength for surviving the odds.
"It was rough at the beginning but things are falling back in place with him. He is running around, back to his normal self again," his mother said.
Washington said Tavon continues to have occasional doctor's appointments, but the mental part of being shot remains a challenge. She said counseling has helped her son get over his fears of being outside or walking to the store.