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'Don't give up on yourself.' Louisville teen gets accepted to college a year after father's murder

A Louisville teenager shares how he was able to overcome a tragedy in his family and live his dream of becoming a college athlete.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A Louisville teen will start school at Hocking College in Ohio, just over a year after his father’s murder.

“He didn't get to live out his dream. I lived it for him,” said Durrell Howard, Jr.

The Central High School linebacker had plans to be college bound after winning the football State Championship, and graduating in 2019.

“I had my paperwork. I had everything figured out. I had my payment plan,” he explained.

But by summer, a year with so much potential turned into one of tragedy.

“I got news that my father was murdered,” he said. “It was unbelievable, honestly.”

Overcome with grief and pain, Durrell's future was put on hold.

“My biggest supporter wasn't here no more,” he explained. “I kind of took a turn downhill.”

That kind of hardship hasn’t been uncommon in Louisville. Gun violence seems to be plaguing the metro, especially over the last week. More than two dozen people were shot, and some victims were only 14 years old.

“You're never going to stop all the crime, you're never going to stop all the killing, but one way to attack that is to show them that you care,” said Chris Forehand with the We All Kinfolk nonprofit.

He mentors young lives, including Durrell’s.

“We as a community cannot give up on any kid, and we definitely cannot give up on kids of this magnitude,” Forehand said.

He worked with Durrell in the year since his father's death, and encouraged the decision to chase his dream once more.

Durrell will play football at Hocking College, and is excited to start the program in two weeks.

He has a simple message for other Louisville teens that might be struggling: “Don't give up on yourself. Nobody is going to ride for you like you will.”

More from WHAS11.com:

► Contact reporter Heather Fountaine at hfountaine@whas11.com and follow her on Twitter (@WHAS11Heather) and Facebook.