Ballerina soars to great heights, motivated by her cousin’s life cut short

Mia Patton remembers her cousin with each step
“Usually I was the only black dancer in class,” she said taking break from practice at Youth...
“Usually I was the only black dancer in class,” she said taking break from practice at Youth American Ballet Company in Gilbert.(Arizona's Family)
Published: Oct. 6, 2022 at 8:00 AM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Family can inspire, motivate and guide us as we pursue our dreams.

For one girl in the East Valley, a special cousin has help her overcome challenges as she tries to climb to the top of the ballet world. If you look around any ballet class in America, you are not likely to see a many girls like Mia Patton.

“Usually I was the only black dancer in class,” she said taking break from practice at Youth American Ballet Company in Gilbert. That enough could be intimidating in any sport. But skin color aside, ballet is so competitive and reaching the top is something very few do.

“I’ve always wanted to dance on the Metropolitan stage or at the Lincoln Center,” Mia said. This 15-year-old ballerina is gracefully dancing her way to greatness with the help of a very special person. “When I was four, I saw my cousin Chelsey dance at my auntie’s 80th birthday,” she said.” “Ever since I’ve seen her dance in her beautiful point shoes and tutu I was kind of obsessed with it.”

Her cousin Chelsey must have made a good impression, because this summer Mia was selected to go to New York City to be part of a prestigious summer program at American Ballet Theater. A whirlwind, trip of a lifetime all documented on her popular social media pages. “I definitely think the sky is the limit,” Essie Patton, Mia’s mom said. “She is unwavering in her goals, she is very determined and hardworking.”

She says when Mia saw her cousin Chelsey dance years ago, it lit a spark for her daughter. “She fell in love and decided right then and there she wanted to be just like Chelsey,” Essie said. After that Mia’s mom signed her up for her first ballet class when she was three. Even though Mia is chasing her ballet dreams, Chelsey never got the chance.

“Chelsey was shot and killed by her son’s father,” Essie said. In February of 2018 Chelsey’s boyfriend, Tyler Ruiz, shot Chelsey and her sister before turning the gun on himself, leaving their son without a mother and father. It was a murder-suicide that knocked the family down, delivering blows of sorrow, leaving them with questions of why.

“Especially because Chelsey was such a kind, sweet and gentle person,” Essie said. “Ya know, for her to have that violence done to her it was just heartbreaking.” Mia was only 11 years old when her cousin was murdered, but even today she has drawn a sense of determination from the family loss. “I know she is with me,” Mia said. “When I am dancing, and when I am not dancing.”

Mia was back briefly this summer from New York City practicing to get her license with her mother. Now, she is back at America Ballet Theater this fall to continue their program and make memories at iconic landmarks like the Brooklyn Bridge. She really lives and breathes her ballet dream every day, but she also thinks about how she will finish Chelsey’s dream cut short by violence.

“I hope to see you again one day,” Mia said. “and we can dance together.” As you may expect, living in New York City is not cheap so Mia and her family have set up a GoFundMe page. If you would like to help her on her journey, you can donate here.