Merrick McMahon is a freshman at Bishop Ryan High School. He and his family have gone through more than the average person goes through in their lifetime.
McMahon underwent emergency brain surgery earlier this year after suffering a serious injury at wrestling practice -- a sport that changed McMahon's life for the better. While he's at school, the injury might sideline him permanently from wrestling and prevent him from a promise he made to his brother that passed away last year.
Walking through the halls of Bishop Ryan Catholic School, McMahon carries more than just the weight of his backpack.
He started wrestling two years ago, and he says he felt empowered by the sport.
"And for a while there was a group that was picking on him," said Michelle McMahon, Merrick's mom.
"When I was younger, I was really skinny, wasn't even 100 pounds, and didn't know anything about sports, wasn't really coordinated. I got picked on a little bit and I just decided to say no. And my dad was a good wrestler in college so I decided to try it and in two years I was pretty good. I could have made it to state this year," Merrick said.
"You see what the sport itself means to him and it's not like any other sport. It's just you out there and other kids strive in that atmosphere and some don't, and he does well in that," said Chase Lee, Bishop Ryan head wrestling coach.
"That I can do it. I just love wrestling. That's my passion," Merrick said.
But his budding wrestling career almost marked the end to his life.
"Coach told us to switch partners so I just went with one of our seniors here, and right here in that circle back there actually. I accidentally got caught up and got tossed on my head," Merrick said.
"And he went and sat down on the stage next to a garbage can because he was feeling nauseated and he he eventually laid down and the last thing he remembers is coach Lipp shining a pen light in his eyes," Michelle said.
"From that point, He kind of lost consciousness," Lee said.
"He said Cassie the trainer said to call the ambulance and I said, 'Why? Is it that bad? Is he unconscious?' And he said yes. And at that point I put my flashers on my car and naturally hit every red light in Minot," Michelle said. "I was shocked. I was afraid."
The injury is said to be 100 times worse than a concussion.
Alive and well, there's just one thing on his mind.
"I'd like to head back to the mat no matter what, to be honest," Merrick said.
"There's not a lot of studies on how this particular injury and coming back to sports," Lee said.
"My pediatrician says I can, but my neurologist that did the surgery said I can't. I wish I could wrestle. I want to wrestle for as long as I can," Merrick said.
Coming up, we will have more about the promise he made to his brother that passed away and the choices he faces now.