A young Australian boy who made headlines around the world after a video emerged of him saying he wanted to kill himself because of bullying has gone from "the worst day of his life to the best day of his life,” his mother said.
Quaden Bayles, 9, led Australia's Indigenous All-Stars rugby league team out onto the field in their game with the Maori All Stars in Queensland on Saturday.
Speaking to reporters before the game on Friday, his mother Yarraka Bayles said it was his dream to play the full contact sport, according to the Reuters press agency.
After he received his invite to attend, she said he had gone from "the worst day of his life to the best day of his life.”
As the teams made their entrance to cheers from the crowd, Bayles wearing noise cancelling headphones, held the match ball and All-Stars captain Joel Thompson’s hand.
He then watched the teams of 13 players each, compete in the game. Like the NFL, points are scored by carrying the ball beyond the opposing team’s goal line to score a "try." Points can also be scored by kicking goals.
The schoolboy, an Aboriginal Australian who was born with achondroplasia, a genetic order that results in dwarfism, was asked to join the rugby stars after a video of him in deep distress went viral on social media.
In the video, which was posted to Facebook by Yarraka on Tuesday, he can be heard saying: "I wish I could stab myself in the heart."
He added that he "wants someone to kill" him because his classmates relentlessly mocked him about his height
His mother can be heard questioning why educators and parents were not doing more to inform their children about the consequences of bullying.
The video has since been viewed more than 20 million times and it generated support from people all over the world including celebrities like Hugh Jackman and Jeffrey Dean Morgan.
Eric Trump, the son of U.S. President Donald Trump, also said the video was “absolutely heartbreaking.”
A GoFundMe page to send Bayles to Disneyland with his mother was set up by comedian Brad Williams, who was also born with a type of dwarfism.
It has surpassed its original $10,000 goal and collected over $450,000 from more than 20,000 donors.