He came in with his sister. He was so shy, so quiet, and she was not. They don't have the same last names, so we didn't know for a while. Until we got to know them. He is smart. Smarter than he realizes, and he loves basketball. Our connection was basketball, and math. He did well in class, always flying under the radar. Shy, quiet, the one who doesn't get noticed. The one with a really loud, overbearing friend/cousin/brother person, E, who takes the spotlight. E didn't get enough playing time on the court, and his grades suffered so he changed schools. W stays and keeps his grades up and plays ball.
Then E gets in serious trouble. There is a gun involved. W stays the course, the grades waiver a bit, but he gets really good at making 3 point shots and starts being a leader on the team. The coach, who has put so much time in with him, leaves without warning. Things go south on the basketball front. The new coach is bad for the team. The grades suffer, but he's still there. Still in school, still working, still playing. And there is math, which he excels at.
Then there is that damn gun again. This time W is there...and I get sick to my stomach when I find out. The cousin/brother/so called friend person put him in jeopardy this time. I hate that! "But he's family." "I don't care, he shouldn't put you in that position!" And the year ends and W is still there, still there.
This year there is a new coach. One who is willing to listen and work. There are ups and downs, but it's better. The grades are up and down, but b-ball is back so he works. Then E and the gun are back, again. This time the mistake means jail for a long time. It takes some time, but W gets back in the game, fully committed, grades are on track... mostly. He works to get done, works to be on a special summer team. He stayed, he finished, he will graduate. I hope he goes to school for something and has a good long life. He gives great hugs, by the way. I will miss him too.