Vancouver teen wins Courage to Come Back Award

Courage to Come Back Youth winner Coltyn Liu. Submitted
Click to play video: 'Extended interview: Courage to Come Back winner Coltyn Liu'
Extended interview: Courage to Come Back winner Coltyn Liu

WATCH: Global News talked to Courage to Come Back winner Coltyn Liu.

Sixteen-year-old Coltyn Liu has had to overcome a lot to get to where he is today.

Although he is a volleyball superstar now, at the age of two he suffered from a brain injury after a trip to the mall with his mom.

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Coltyn and his mom were waiting to get a drink at the food court and did not see an employee with a steel crate behind them.

“When they came through the food court they struck my son on the side of the head in their effort to avoid hitting another child,” explains Kathleen, Coltyn’s mom.

“His foot was caught in some kind of the wheel well and as he slammed him in the chest his leg had unquailed and he was thrown through the air and hit the back of his head on the tile wall and then bounced forward and hit his head on the floor.”

Doctors said Coltyn would never recover from his brain injuries.

“At first I was told that I would never be able to graduate even high school, that I most likely wouldn’t walk or talk again,” says Coltyn.

His mom was a single parent, who had to give up her job to be able to take Coltyn to the doctor and therapy appointments he needed.

“I was climbing in ditches to collect pop bottles to survive,” says Kathleen, who says living on income assistance was very difficult.

“Being told that your son needs a particular therapy or something, that there may be hope, it’s probably one of the most difficult things to deal with when you don’t have the money.”

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At school Coltyn was bullied for being “slower” than the other kids.

“I would get overwhelmed so I would have to go like hide under tables or like cover my ears,” explains Coltyn.

“I just couldn’t cope.”

Then he found volleyball, where he finally found a sense of belonging.

“It helps me get up in the morning when I’m not feeling well, when I’m having a bad day. It just makes me want to keep fighting.”

Coltyn says volleyball has helped him deal with issues both medically and physically.

“Instead of having to go to all the therapies and stuff, my mom kind of found a way to incorporate a bunch of therapies like my sensitivity hearing or my depth perception issues. ”

He says her mom would go to the park and play with him.

He has now been invited to tryout for Team Canada, despite still suffering everyday from his brain injuries.

“I feel proud and humbled by it,” he adds.

Coltyn and his family created an organization called K.A.R.E., which tries to help others “develop a sense of self worth by providing a place where anyone can express ideas and showcase their gifts with no judgment,” reads the website.

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On May 5 he will be receiving the 2016 Courage to Come Back Award in the Youth category.

These awards are given to those who have overcome illness or adversity and have come back to give to their communities.

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