This I Believe

Steven - Norman, Oklahoma
Entered on February 7, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30

While growing up in a small town in Oklahoma, I met my best friend in first grade. At first glance, one would think we are polar opposites but really we have more in common than people think. Both our fathers left us to be raised by our mothers, never playing a major role in our childhoods and starting new families. We bonded through our shared feelings of anger and desertion.

After being best friends for many years his mother passed away from a battle with breast cancer in the middle of our sixth grade year. He began living with his grandmother who already housed three of his cousins in one small house in the country. I did not get to see him much during this time because she did not like him associating with the opposite race. He lived with her for a couple years until he found out she was stealing his social security checks from him each month. After discovering what his grandmother had been doing he packed what little he had and moved in with my mom and I.

When living with my mom, I thought I had nothing to be proud of because of where we lived and the way we lived. My mom taught school from eight to three and came home to leave again and go wait tables until midnight. It was a lonely childhood but I took what I had for granted until he moved in with me. He came to my house with only two sets of clothes and no real family members who showed interest in him. Since that day we were always together, going everywhere and doing everything together as one.

Throughout all of the years we spent together we shared an understanding of what is what like to come from undesirable circumstances.

When it came time to think about college, he was convinced he would never to get to attend school because he was not an outstanding student. It was not until our senior football season that he began attracting attention for his performance on the field. Coaches began calling from schools across the nation, expressing their interest in him. At the end of the year he received a full scholarship to play football at The University of Missouri. While he was succeeding on the football field I was succeeding in the classroom and received several academic scholarships to attend The University of Oklahoma.

While we both experienced adversity, we made a promise to overcome everything we had been through to become more successful that we could ever dream. He overcame every obstacle he was faced with by leaps and bounds. I accepted my situation and knew that the easy thing would be to let it define me; instead I made a conscious choice to rise above my circumstance. Despite all of our struggles, we believed in ourselves and understood that all it takes to conquer adversity is to have the desire to triumph in even seemingly inescapable situations. This I believe.