A homeless teen who sleeps on his friends couches while attending school, had at least one thing to look forward to, and that was the possibility of playing for Temple University’s football team once he graduated.
But his hopes for a brighter future were dashed when Jamal Speaks, a senior at Ballou High School in Washington, DC, was kicked off his high school football team because he doesn’t have a permanent address, NBC reports.
“It’s a heartbreak,” The 18-year-old told NBC. “I can’t even practice right now. Participate.”
Speaks said that his father died and he doesn’t have a relationship with his mother. A few years ago, he said he thought the residency issue was solved.
“I already proved that I was a homeless resident,” Speaks said.
D.C. Public School officials say the State Athletic Association will allow Speaks to play because he is eligible. But they haven’t been able to verify where he lives.
“It was demeaning to the young man,” said Monet Anderson, who reports on high school football in the area for Top Sports.
Council Member Trayon White has taken up to cause to campaign to get Speaks the help he needs.
“It’s incumbent upon me to get this boy the support he needs to not only play football but to be successful in life and go to college,” White said.
Speaks is hoping that he will once again get a chance to practice with his team and ultimately graduate and attend Temple University as planned.
From Homeless to Harvard
The 18-year-old school senior was relentless in his academic pursuit and stayed the course in school, even as he faced homelessness, medical issues, and constant bullying in classes.
He used his negative experiences as a catalyst to ignite his dreams of one day going to college, so he studied very hard.
Jenkins graduated as valedictorian in June, and was offered a full-ride to Harvard. He will study computer science, with a special interest in artificial intelligence.