Every so often, there is a story in the news that makes you stop dead in your tracks. The sort of story that makes you squint your eyes, purs your lips, and get the wheels in the dome moving quite a bit. Usually these kind of stories are the ones that are plastered on the front page with some catchy headline that helps sell newspapers, solicit clicks, or create the proverbial retweet. The kind of story that is negative in nature, or juicy enough in raw gossip.
However, the story yours truly came across a couple of weeks ago is the kind that is non of the aforementioned. In fact, it is quite the opposite. This story was the kind that was buried in the middle of the paper and probably passed over for Lady Gaga or Lebron James. The story that I am describing is one in which a 18 year old homeless teenager, abandoned by his parents, earns a college scholarship.
The story which can be read here, is one that I feel should be read by everyone. A story, which somewhat mirrors the story of Chris Gardner and his “Pursuit of Happiness”, Orayne Williams discusses his drive to sacrifice through homeless shelters and long days of studying. A story that exhibits an individual’s drive to want better for his life despite his external conditions.
After spending some time working with teens, and continuing to work with youth through baseball, it is a story that I find amazing. In a time where many of our youth devalue education and are afraid to sacrifice and work hard, Williams uses school and education as a way to escape his situation, but most importantly, a way to build his future.
While it may sound cliché, and yes, very corny, unfortunately, that is where the next generation is. Especially, in the inner city.
And even though Williams’ story is one of inspiration for teenagers, his story is one for adults as well. Williams, in a bind, could've easily given up on a life that seemed to have given up on him. It was easy to give in, and rebel against a system that didn’t seem all too supportive of him. But he didn’t.
He didn’t make any excuses. He didn’t blame anyone or anything.
It is a unique and interesting story that makes one wonder about how easily we give up, or maybe how little we try in today’s society.
Orayne Williams’ story is a stark reminder of one or the other – or both.