Some people should be cloned – for their spirit, determination, and attitude, and for reminding us about honor and what really matters in a world gone crazy. Demetrius Carter could be one of those people.
I don’t know what made me pick up and read the article in the New Orleans Advocate, which Mike Gegenheimer wrote, with “Survivor” its only headline. I don’t usually read the sports section unless the Saints are on a winning streak.
Maybe it was the picture of this young man looking strong, no-nonsense, formidable and genuine, his eyes looking right into mine. Whatever it was captured me, and as I read his story I was intrigued. It even made me cry.
Demetrius, was born addicted to cocaine with barely a chance for survival as doctors tried to cleanse his small body of the drug and help him through the awful pain of withdrawal. He spent months in the hospital and fought to overcome those first struggles. But that’s not all he overcame or achieved.
Among the poorest of the poor, Demetrius and his 13 siblings, being raised mostly by their grandmother, grew up in a tough, violent neighborhood on Chicago’s South side. His father was shot and killed when he was three years old. He was troubled and mean, his grandmother said, and eventually expelled from school. His older brothers were drug dealers, and he had started down that path, but something happened to stop him in his tracks. His grandmother, Harriet, who had been diagnosed with cancer, had a heart attack, and according to Gegenheimer, Demetrius felt himself to blame for the added stress he caused her. That’s when he started to turn his life around.
He enrolled in a Catholic college preparatory school, got heavily involved in sports, student government, and the junior board of a local charity, and graduated with honors. He moved to Louisiana and joined the Southern football team, took 19 hours of classes, while also having a job. He regularly sent money back home to Chicago. Demetrius has since earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing and is working on his master’s.
But here’s the best part. Demetrius and a partner, also a Chicago native, have started a company called Profound Visions LLC whose aim is to mentor young people while teaching math and reading literacy.
Another partnership of his, more business oriented, represents local artists and involves some real-estate redevelopment. It too has a youth-interest element that works hand in hand with Profound Visions.
Demetrius has the background and heart that allows him the compassion to work with other youth on the wrong life paths. If he can overcome all that he’s overcome, made something of himself, and is helping others to do the same, why do we allow ourselves and others to make excuses for not doing the same?
My hat is off to Demetrius and to other Demetriuses out there. We can make this world a better place. If you know of one of them, please let me know, add to the narrative, and let’s focus on the good, the true, and the beautiful.