NewsHillsborough County


Terminally ill father watches son graduate early from A.P. Leto High School

Terminally ill father watches son graduate high school
Posted at 9:53 PM, Jan 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-21 23:54:56-05

TAMPA, Fla. — A.P. Leto High School senior, and now graduate, Jaden Wilson was at a loss for words after walking across the stage inside the school's auditorium, Friday night.

"I"m just trying to take it all in, right now," he said.

"You know, they ask you in life about students that you teach, and Jaden will always be in my heart," Wilson's English teacher, Dr. Michele Lambert, said.

But no one's heart was fuller than that of Wilson's father.

"I'm really just glad that my dad was able to see this," Wilson said.

James Wilson is in a losing battle against colon cancer.

"First we found out that he only has like two to six months left, and his health has been declining since then," Jaden Wilson said about his dad.

Wilson feared his father may not make it to May to watch him dress in cap and gown alongside his classmates, but Leto High administration was not going to let Wilson walk without his father looking on. The school organized a one-time graduation ceremony for its start student with friends, faculty, and of course his father in attendance.

“I’m really just glad that I was able to go up there and that he was able to see it because there was no guarantee that he’d be able to in the first place," Wilson said.

The normally stoic Jaden admitted to ABC Action News, he felt the weight of the moment as all eyes focused on him accepting his diploma, but the only eyes that mattered to him belonged to the man sitting front and center.

A father proud of his son, and a son always grateful for his dad.

"I know that he’s really glad that he’s able to be here to witness this and so am I," Wilson said.