A homeless teenager in Texas will soon be joining the ranks of college football stars.
Leslie Adindu, a senior at Arlington Heights High School in Fort Worth, Texas, has signed a letter of intent to join the football team at Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, Missouri.
Making Adindu’s feat even more remarkable is the fact that he’s never played a varsity game.
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Adindu, 19, immigrated to the U.S. from Nigeria last year, enrolling as a junior at his high school. “I really didn’t know anything about football or anything like that,” he told NBC affiliate KXAS-TV.
After being invited by coach Charles Perry to join the school’s junior varsity football team, Adindu impressed the coach with his positive attitude and strong work ethic.
Though life on the football field was going well for the athlete, things at home were another story.
Adindu told KXAS that he and his father got into a fight. After his father moved away, Adindu was forced to move into a shelter for people without housing.
“The big thing with being homeless, especially the kids we have, we don’t want them to lose hope,” Perry told the station. “In that situation, you’re surrounded by people who have lost hope.”
Before long, Adindu faced another obstacle. By the time he’d made the school’s varsity team as a senior, the 6-foot-3-inch teen had turned 19, making him two weeks too old to play varsity football in Texas.
“Obviously he was disappointed,” said Perry. “But he tried to see the big picture.”
Adindu’s coaches devised a plan to keep him on the team even though he was not allowed to play. They recorded his performances at practice games and began introducing him to college scouts.
The coaches at Southwest Baptist University saw potential in Adindu, who is still living in a homeless shelter. They asked him to sign a letter of intent this week.
“I didn’t really think it was happening because most people in my situation they just — they just lose hope at times,” Adindu said.
Perry hopes others will hear of Adindu’s “success story” and gain inspiration from it.
As for Adindu, he has some heartfelt advice for anyone facing tough circumstances.
“Basically, don’t give up,” he said. “Most people would have given up. Just don’t give up. Do the best you can and leave the rest to God.”