Nurses thought Mathew Rudes might die before his mother could even take him home after his birth due to severe Marfan syndrome, but Rudes, 21, will graduate with honors this spring from the University of California Los Angeles and begin law school in the fall. "I have survived my disabilities, I have survived my pain syndrome and I have survived the burning gaze of people who assume that I must be mentally retarded because I am in a wheelchair," Rudes said. "You cannot let disability, pain or worse -- people's assumptions -- rule your life; this is my life mantra. I live or die by these words."
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