Minneapolis football player hurt in fire, who dreams of playing in NFL, honored by Vikings

A Minneapolis high school football player who survived a fire at a young age, suffering burns that changed his life forever, and who now dreams of playing in the NFL, was honored Sunday by his hometown team.

We first brought you the story of a young man named TQ last spring.

When he was four years old, he survived a house fire that killed his 6-year-old sister. Ever since then, his love of football has helped him through the tough times and the Vikings wanted to show their support.

Sunday, at the stadium full of fans trying desperately to be heard, the soft-spoken young man from North Minneapolis sat quietly, soaking it all in.

TQ Wair lives and breathes football -- it's what's gotten him through the tough times in his life. And there have been a lot of tough times. 

“I'm strong," he says. "Most people, they won't be able to last in my life."

When we first met TQ last March, he told us about the night in 2005 that changed everything. He was four years old and asleep when his mom's house went up in flames. Three of his four siblings got out. TQ’s mom went back in for her daughter and TQ ran in after her.

"Taquarius was actually in the room that was on fire," Shawne Wair. "And I couldn't see him. I couldn't see him I just heard him screaming ahhhhh! And I just started talking to him, 'Taquarius follow my voice' and he followed my voice and he came to me.”

TQ's 6-year old sister Shawneece died that night, and he came dangerously close. Half his body was covered in burns, and he lost part of his arm and a foot. Doctors gave him a 20 percent chance to live.

Years later, in high school, TQ threw himself into the only thing that made him feel whole again. "People don't look at me the same when I play sports," he says. "But when you see me on the field on the court, anything I do... It's like wow."

But his senior year, TQ started to question his future on the field. Doubts set in about an amputee making it all the way to the NFL. He nearly walked away from it all and then in 2018, something extraordinary happened. The Seattle Seahawks drafted Shaquem Griffin, a player with one arm.

"He made it to the professional league and I knew it's been hard for him, but hey, you can do it," said TQ.

Back on the field at U.S. Bank Stadium, TQ has the attention of an entire stadium. The Vikings, honored him as their “hometown hero,” recognizing him as someone who makes our community a better place. A moment TQ couldn’t have imagined in his wildest dreams. A moment he’ll soak in now and carry with him forever.

TQ will play football for Mesabi Range College in northern Minnesota this fall and, he says, look for him in the NFL one day.