The boy's mother is vowing to help her son face his uncertain future.
In an ICU bed at Mt Sinai Medical Center, a young man faces a future very much unlike the life he's led.
"They say he's going to be paralyzed from the neck down. He is [aware of this]," Detreena Perteet said.
Ondelee posed for his eighth grade graduation picture just three months ago. He was high school bound.
Early Saturday morning, just outside his grandmother's home, where Perteet and other relatives had gone to a birthday party, there was a gunshot. As his mother explains it, the bullet hit her son in the chin, then bounced internally into his spinal cord. The consequences of that, she has had to explain to her son.
"It's the most difficult thing you can imagine," Detreena Perteet said.
Ondelee was prepared to start his freshman year Tuesday at Orr Academy. He had developed a passion for swimming and was on the high school team.
His coach says Perteet was a talented, determined team player who wanted to be a lifeguard. He was to swim the breast stroke and was part of Orr's medley relay team.
"He cries, he's sad, but at the same time he's very hopeful, he's very hopeful. He says 'I'm strong. I'm going to get through this,'" Detreena Perteet said.
His mom tries to stay strong too between tears and numbness and anger. She wants to know what happened.
So do police, who say early Saturday there were a lot of people out. There was some sort of a fight. Someone got a gun, and despite witnesses, no one's talking. And all the mother can do is issue a plea.
"Anyone that has any information about who shot my son, would they please come forward and tell the police," she said.