TYLER, Texas (CBS) — Odin Frost and Jordan Granberry were both given low survival rates when they were born with brain damage. The two best friends, who both have special needs, grew up side-by-side in Tyler, Texas. Some doctors thought they wouldn’t live very long — but they proved them wrong. Earlier this month, the two 18-year-olds received their high school diplomas together.
The two met at Wayne D. Boshears Center for Exceptional Programs when they were just 3 years old. Their parents still have a photo of them sitting together during the first week of school.
“Their very first day of school, they were put in the same classroom,” Tim Frost, Odin’s dad, told CBS News on Wednesday. “They pretty much had this immediate bond. Neither one of them could speak, but wherever the other one was, they were always together.”
Tim said when his wife was pregnant with their son, she had preeclampsia and doctors had to induce labor. “It was a really hard labor,” he said. “When [Odin] came out, he was barely, barely breathing.”
Tim said his son was airlifted to a NICU in Dallas where he stayed for two weeks. “Weirdly, we later found out that was the same NICU where Jordan was about two weeks before,” he said.
He also said Odin didn’t get enough oxygen to his brain, which caused damage. “We spent the next three years going to different doctors, different specialists … that’s when they said it would be a two percent survival rate,” he said.
Odin’s doctors thought if he did survive, he’d be in what Tim called a “vegetative state.” Similarly, Jordan didn’t get enough oxygen when he was born either, which also caused brain damage. Tim said Jordan’s mom Donna was told her son might not make it to age 7.
The parents met each other at their sons’ school and have stayed close ever since.
After receiving therapy, Odin began walking with braces on his legs. By 4 years old, he surprised his parents by getting out of bed and walking around the house. “We were just bawling crying because they said he would never do that,” Tim said.
Odin was getting stronger at walking, but his friend Jordan hadn’t reached that milestone yet.
“When my son started walking and Jordan didn’t, they had this connection still. My son would try to stand up and push Jordan’s wheelchair and stand beside him at all times and sort of defended him,” Tim said.
“They had a cool little non-verbal communication,” Tim said, adding that the boys connected by playing music at school.
They weren’t always in the same class at school, but the boys never stopped seeing each other. Donna, who is a hairstylist, has cut Odin’s hair since he was young, because she is experienced with cutting hair and special needs children. “That became a thing we did once a month. We’d all hang out and get our hair cut together,” Tim said.
After 15 years of friendship, it came time for high school graduation. Both Odin and Jordan’s parents were apprehensive about attending, due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, after seeing the ceremony would be small and that the school was taking precautions, Tim decided they should attend.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing, let’s let them walk the stage,” he said, adding that once Donna heard Odin would be attending, she decided her son should be there too.
On July 16, both boys attended the graduation ceremony and crossed the stage to get their diplomas — completing high school and defying the odds. “It’s something we thought would never happen. We didn’t think he was going to live…now he’s walking the stage and graduated,” Tim said.
“For me, it was kind of surreal,” Tim said, adding that he had never graduated himself, so when asked if he wanted to walk with his son, he took the opportunity. He said Odin gripped his hand as they walked. “You could feel the excitement in him,” Tim explained.
Odin and Jordan took a photo together at the graduation ceremony — and it unintentionally looked like a recreation of the photo they took when they first met. After posting the photos side-by-side on Reddit, Tim received an outpouring of support from strangers.
When he saw how many comments the picture got, he dreaded that some would be negative. “But seeing all of this positivity — I started crying. I was like, ‘There’s no way. There’s thousands of comments and they’re so positive.'” Tim said his son also loved seeing the comments.
After the epic graduation day, the families had a small celebration and the parents popped a bottle of champagne to celebrate their sons’ achievements, Tim said.
The Wayne D. Boshears Center for Exceptional Programs continues schooling for people with special needs up to age 21, which both Odin and Jordan are planning to attend.