OAKLAND, Calif. - ABC7 has celebrated student achievement with our Star Scholars program for 12 years. Each year, ABC7 recognizes seven Bay Area high school seniors for their extraordinary achievements and awards each with a $1,000 scholarship toward his or her college education. ABC7 News Weather Anchor Spencer Christian met with one East Bay Star Scholar winner who has overcome some extraordinary challenges with grit and gratitude.
De'Sean Neabeack-Brantley is considered a leader and role model at McClymonds High School in Oakland.
This star athlete and recent graduate is headed to UC Berkeley in the fall to study nutritional science.
"That'll be my way of staying with the sport of football," he said. "Football was always my outlet to just be able to have fun and play because growing up in the situation I was in, if I wasn't in the house, I was outside playing to free my mind, just be myself."
U.S. government teacher Claudette Center confirms that Neabeack-Brantley spent a good portion of his childhood in homelessness, "Yes, he was in and out of places, in and out of shelters, sometimes living in cars," she said.
Neabeack-Brantley adds, "Growing up seeing my mom pursue the medical field and she was trying hard to finish her medical school, but she was unable to. That's my way of being able to finish her dream and to finish mine as well. She's just so proud of me for being able to do what I've done, not to give up like most others would do. I was able to push myself and stay on the right path and finish. That's my goal."
"He was able to overcome his issues and maintain his humility, his determination and show strength in the face of all that adversity," Center said.
When asked what he wants people to learn from hearing his story, Neabeack-Brantley said, "Well, I just want people that grew-up in a similar situation like me to know they can do whatever they put their mind to. You know, they can fulfill their goals, they don't have to just take what they got. They can always push for greatness."
You can watch our ABC7 Star Scholar special on Sunday on July 23, 2017 at 6:30 p.m. Click here to learn about our other Star Scholars.
Do you know a change-maker in your community? They can apply for a $500 Summer of Service grant for their community project. Just go to ysa.org/beinspired.
Written and produced by Jennifer K. Rumple.