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Burn survivor given a 20% chance to live defies the odds

Taquarius Wair, a recent Minneapolis North High graduate, refuses to let his past define his future.

MINNEAPOLIS — After going through a devastating house fire at just 4-years-old, losing his older sister and only given a 20% chance to live, a young man with the cards stacked against him is defying the odds. 

Recent North Minneapolis graduate Taquarius Wair, who also goes by TQ, proves daily that anything is possible. TQ’s mom, Shawnee Wair, tells us the night of her house fire in March 2005 is one she’ll never forget.

“About 3 o’clock in the morning, I woke up to smoke, and when I woke up I panicked a little bit,” Shawnee said. “I heard Taquarius screaming but I didn't know where it was coming from. Come to find out he was in the room that was actually on fire, and he was just screaming this horrific scream, this very violent scream like he was hurt.”

In the midst of the chaos, TQ was badly burned, but thankfully he got out. Sadly, his 6-year-old sister Shawneece was still trapped inside. “I couldn't get back in, so I went outside and started screaming 'Help me! Someone help me,'” Shawnee said.

Her neighbors, hearing Shawnee's frantic calls for help, tried to get inside the burning house. “I ran out of the house, and I tried to run in but I couldn't get up the steps and it was just too much smoke,” a neighbor recalled.

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Shawneece died in the fire. Her brother TQ survived, but left with painful scars all over his body, which now serve as reminders of his past. Those scars are not stopping him from living his life, focusing on his future

“I got burned on my chest, on my arms, my feet, my back, and my face and my hand was injured severely and my left foot was also injured,” shared TQ.

The 18-year-old refuses to let this tragedy stop him, or define him.

“It's all about perseverance,” TQ said. “You got to keep going, and life is not fair sometimes, sometimes things don't go your way you just got to work through it, keep your head high and it’s going to be alright in the end because you got to stay strong and stay positive.”

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He spent his time focusing on football, excelling at the high school level and now at Mesabi Range College. “I live my life just like everybody else, and I feel like that is going to take me far, just being who I am.” TQ said.

His mom agrees, saying TQ’s strength is undeniable.

“When he says he is going to do something, he tries to do it and I love that about him.” Shawnee said. “He doesn't let the world get him down, he doesn't let the outside get him down. He’s true to who he is and that's what lead his way.”

TQ was recently honored at a Minnesota Vikings game and spotlighted in an ESPN SportsCenter special.

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