Jeremiah Armstead persevered despite being dealt a difficult hand in life.

Nineteen-year-old Jeremiah Armstead started college this fall, officially making his dream come true. Sure, many kids dream of going to college, but what makes this young man’s story different is just how hard he worked to get there.

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According to Good Morning America, Armstead spent the past three years sleeping in cars and in domestic violence shelters with his mother, brother, and sister in Philadelphia. No one at school knew that, though, because the teen didn’t want it to define him. So even though his friends wondered why he would ask to be dropped off at a 7-Eleven rather than home, Armstead was a good student and played basketball, so people didn’t ask too many questions.  

“Any type of adversity that I went through, for the most part, it motivated me and pushed me,” he told the outlet.

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Armstead was sleeping at a friend’s house when he found out he had been accepted to his university of choice, Fisk University, a historically Black college (HBCU). They had recruited him to play on their basketball team. Of course, he was over the moon.

“I was bringing smarts, of course, but it was hard to do that being homeless and juggling everything, like domestic violence situations, just stuff like that,” he said. “Living in a shelter, living in a car — it was hard to think, go to school, worry about my mom or my brother, my sister.”

How a 19-Year-Old Athlete’s Dream Came True

Luckily for Armstead, he didn’t have to do everything alone. His family and coaches were by his side, and so were leaders from We Educate Brilliant Minds and Sisters of Watts. The kid’s determination and perseverance touched the organization, and people within wanted to help.

“He was just such a bright young man,” Keisha Daniels, of Sisters of Watts, told a Fox affiliate. “He had a lot of adversities in his life, and he told me how he desired to go to HBCU, and I said, ‘You know what? We’re going to make this happen.’”

So Daniels reached out to We Educate Brilliant Minds, and they did their own research on this amazing kid. What they found inspired them to help as well. “Being a homeless athlete, I think it made me work even harder to get him across,” Stephen Bernstein, who works at the organization, added.

This fall, Armstead started school at Fisk, studying kinesiology. He’s also playing on the Fisk men’s basketball team for coach (and former LA Clippers star) Kenneth Anderson.

“It definitely was a blessing for him and his family to be at a university — Fisk University,” Anderson said to GMA, adding he could tell by the kid’s work ethic that he would be a great fit.

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Now Armstead’s younger siblings are talking about going to Fisk too. Jeremiah says his success motivates the whole family because he was given one simple thing: a chance. “That’s all I needed,” he said. “That’s all I ever needed in life, was a chance,” he continued.

“I just want to show people that are in my circumstances, like don’t stop. Don’t ever think of giving up, because just like that, stuff could change.”

How One Homeless Teen Proved the Importance of Perseverance

One of the most inspiring parts of Armstead’s story is how he never gave up on his dream of going to college, even when it seemed impossible. Today he’s sharing his story and showing that it is possible, and that’s a message that applies to so many areas of life.

Whether going through a rough patch, feeling stuck at work, or wondering how you will bring yourself to that next level, Armstead reminds us to keep our ultimate goals in mind and not to give up.

Sure there may be naysayers and battles to win along the way, but sometimes if something is worth it, it’s also worth not giving up on.


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