Extraordinary things happen to people the world over, but it's rare when they happen to children -- and end with a pleasant surprise. Many don't believe in luck these days, but there are people walking around today that are surely luckier than most. Some of them survived circumstances that should have been the end of them, and others were born special in ways that would make them famous at a young age. However you choose to see them, there's no doubt that they're special to at least some degree, and some are downright wonders. These are 15 child miracles, wonders, and prodigies who all defied the odds.
Walking at Six Months
Xavier King: Now there's a name that rings of destiny. This kid sounds like his parents planned for him to be some sort of superhero, but since he's only seven months old we've still got some time to see what else he's got up the sleeves of that onesie. A month ago, Xavier suddenly got up, and started walking. He was alone with his mother at the time, who had trouble convincing other people that the event ever happened -- until he did it again. It wasn't long before he wouldn't stop walking, and after verification by video footage, he was quickly covered by local journalists. For perspective, the accepted age to expect a child to begin walking, unaided, is about 10 to 12 months.
Enrolling in University at Age Four
Child prodigies of this caliber are extremely rare, and Kim Ung-Yong was exceptional even among other documented prodigies. He began speaking at six months, was fluent in Korean by 12 months, and by age three had gained fluency in Japanese, English and German as well. Just one year later, he demonstrated mastery over Chinese, Vietnamese and Spanish. He was a student at Hanyang University until age six, when NASA invited him to the US to study physics, where he earned his PhD by age 16. Afterwards, he returned to Korea where he became a civil engineer, giving up physics due to the distaste he developed while sequestered away in America doing research for the duration of his young life. Even geniuses can burn out, and Ung-Yong is an example of how great potential can be squashed by restless boredom.
Billiards Pro at Age Six
Willie Mosconi was born in 1913 and lived above the pool hall his father ran in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania as a child. It wasn't long after he was able to peek over the top of pool tables that he began to show promise; he stood on top of crates and boxes to get high enough, and began to shoot pool with the skill of a professional. At age six, after putting on quite a nightly show at the billiard his father owned, he went up against the reigning world Straight Pool champion. He lost the match, but gave the champion such a run for his money that Willie was cemented as a fixture in the game for the rest of his life. He continued on from there, only getting better, and only taking breaks for rest, sickness, and World War II. To this day, he still holds the high-run record for Straight Pool.
Becoming the World's Youngest Medical Doctor at Age 17
Balamurali Ambati is a true to life Doogie Howser, only he couldn't possibly look less like Neil Patrick Harris. He was born in New York, and his father convinced the school to allow him to study at his own considerable pace -- allowing Balaurali to move through school twice as fast as his peers. He graduated with a Bachelor's Degree from NYU at just 13 years old, and quickly moved on to enroll at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, where he graduated at 17. He became the world's youngest doctor at the early age of 17. He's currently a professor and director of Corneal research at the University of Utah.
"Miracle Baby" Survives Train Incident
The video speaks volumes. At the Ashburton Station in Melbourne, Australia, a young (and somewhat clueless) mother groped in horror as her six month-old boy's stroller rolled onto the tracks of an oncoming train. To all witnesses present, it appeared as though the child was finished, as both he and his stroller were swept beneath the 250-ton train -- moving at about 35 km/hr. The train operator, who was later deemed a hero, applied every brake he had at his disposal to the maximum pressure, but the train still moved another 30 meters before coming to a complete stop. As the frantic mother and onlookers all rushed to find evidence of the grizzly accident, they found that the stroller -- with baby strapped inside -- had been dragged the entire distance at the tip of the train. The baby was fine; he had only sustained a bump to the head.
Inexplicable Sole Survivor of Plane Crash
It's not an M. Night Shyamalan movie. On August 16, 1987, Northwest Flight 255 went down over Romulus, Michigan. The plane was obliterated. Including crew members, there were 155 people onboard that plane, and only one survived: Cecilia Cichan of Tempe, Arizona. She was only four years old at the time of the crash, travelling with her mother, father, and older brother. Her survival was deemed "inexplicable" by all who investigated or witnessed the event, as it was a particularly destructive crash. Afterwards, Cecilia lived with family in Alabama who kept her away from the media for her own sake -- and also to keep her safe from Samuel L. Jackson.
10 Year-Old Boy Survives a Knife in the Head
Granted; there are several stories of men getting stabbed or shot in the head and surviving the ordeal, but rarely is a child the victim. Such was the case when the son of a shop-owner in Kandahar got between his father and an angry, knife wielding customer. The assailant thrust the knife, aiming for the proprietor, but instead plunged the three inch blade hilt-deep into the boy's head. A British officer happened across the scene and rushed the boy to a field hospital, where they discovered that the boy couldn't possibly be any luckier given such unlucky circumstances. The knife had somehow managed to slice in between the back of his eyes (missing the optic nerves) and the front of his brain. How the boy managed to survive the attack so relatively unharmed was beyond anyone present.
A Piano Prodigy at Age Four
Aimi Kobayashi was born in 1995, in Ube, Japan, and began playing the piano at age three. It wasn't long before she was wowing people on stage, being a fully remarkable pianist just one year later. By 2001, she had made a name for herself in competitions the world over. By age seven, she was performing with a full orchestra, and she's participated at events worldwide ever since -- events that had her performing in front of audiences in New York City, Paris, Moscow, Krakow, and Tokyo. She's been taken under the wing of the American Association for the Development of the Gifted and Talented, who provide funding and management of Aimi's appearances.
Nine Year-Old Speaks 11 Languages
If child prodigies are known for anything besides their intellect, it's usually their secretive home life, stuffy parents, lack of interpersonal skills and basically an overall quiet appearance. Wendy Vo, still a preteen, was outed to the world in 2008 as a child prodigy when video footage began appearing of her being interviewed. First there was music, as she has been playing piano since she was only four years old, but that was quickly eclipsed by her astonishing language skills. She began learning languages at a frantic pace, speaking 11 by age eight, including Vietnamese (her native tongue), English, Japanese, Chinese, Spanish, French, Hindi, Arabic, Russian, Cantonese and Portuguese. As if that wasn't special enough, she's managed to successfully multitask her development in both fields, having released her own compositions and gaining membership to the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers -- as their youngest member in history.
Newborn Baby Survives 26 Stab-Wounds
In 2007, a newborn baby boy was found in a financial district of Mumbai -- in a garbage dump. He was found in a pile of garbage, covered in blood, with his intestines hanging out of his body. The boy had sustained 26 stab-wounds, was covered in filth, and had a fractured skull. Hospital staff managed to get the boy into stable condition shortly after his admittance, but had no luck in finding his family. It was believed that he had been born to an unwed mother, and was dumped by her at the landfill after she attempted to stab him to death. It was a miracle that anybody found him at all, and at only one to two days old, the boy's refusal to give up on life was nothing short of extraordinary.
12 Month-Old Baby Survives Tornado that Destroyed Home
Officials arrived to a scene of multiple miracles after the small town of Millington, Michigan was struck by a tornado. One home, in particular, had been devastated -- but the family survived without injury. The house was completely leveled, with nothing higher than six feet still standing, and yet the 12 month-old baby laying in his crib was somehow unharmed. He was found by a neighbor, some 40 feet from the home, under a pile of rubble. The family was asleep in their beds when the tornado hit, so it's already extremely lucky that there were any survivors at all, but for the baby to be flung that far, in his crib, and survive unscathed is nothing short of miraculous, and the local officials were quick to call the news stations and tell them so.
A Fully Barred Lawyer at Age 18
In a story so catchy that she's now got TV execs scrambling to produce a comedy series using none other than Hilary Duff to play her role, Kathleen Holtz passed the California State Bar Examination in 2007 at the tender age of 18. She instantly became the youngest fully "barred" lawyer the state -- and possibly the nation -- had ever seen. She began her training at age 10, when she enrolled at California State University Los Angeles (a remarkable feat in and of itself), graduating four years later and moving on to UCLA to study Law. While her career is just beginning at this point, there's no doubt that she's got the chops.
Reading at 17 Months Old
Elizabeth Barrett, at 17 months old, is one of the absolute youngest people in history to learn to read. As her mother explains it, she noticed something was special about her daughter when the toddler read the word "corn" off a cereal box that had no picture of corn on it. After further investigation, her mother realized that the little girl, who should barely be speaking words let alone recognizing written language, was able to sound out and read nearly any word presented to her -- provided they were simple enough. The little girl had apparently spent a great deal of time watching a sign-language children's show on TV, and somehow managed to develop her remarkable ability at an early age.
World's Youngest Mother at Age Five
While not a particularly happy story, Lina Medina holds the record to this day for being the youngest girl in the world to become a mother. She was born in 1933 Peru, in a small village that had no local doctor. Her parents thought that she had a massive tumor developing in her belly, and made the long journey to the nearest hospital, where they were informed that their daughter didn't have a tumor, but was in fact pregnant. Her father was arrested after the discovery, but released soon afterwards due to complete lack of evidence. Lina never revealed the identity of the father, and her doctors believed that she may not have known herself.
Seven Month-Old Survives Being Trapped in a Running Washer
Valle Hernandez is one of the luckiest babies in the world, even if his mother and brother aren't the greatest he could hope for. The infant, at only seven months old, made his way into a side-loader washing machine while playing with his older brother -- all while his mother wasn't paying attention. The four year-old brother closed the door while his mother set the wash cycle, and Valle became locked inside for the duration. The washer began to fill with water and agitate, and by the time the mother realized what had happened it was too late for her to do anything about the situation but run for help. It took several fully grown men to pry the door open after several minutes had passed, and inside they found the barely living Valle -- unconscious and unresponsive. He was resuscitated on the scene and rushed to a hospital, and even though he was in horrifying shape when he came out of that washer, he's just fine now.