The rose that grew from concrete
Everyone has a story.
In Caylin Moore's case, he has taken a story that should be plagued by pain and crippled by difficulty and written it as a masterpiece. He compares himself to a rose that grows from concrete-an allusion to a poem by Tupac Shakur. Through profound adversity and infinite grief, Caylin has risen to become something and someone that few people ever thought he could.
Caylin stands 6'1, weighs 175 pounds, runs a 40-yard dash in 4.7 seconds, and he can throw a football 60 yards-plus on the fly. He's had scouts raving about him since he was a junior at Verbum Dei High School in Los Angeles, California. Today, two years and three thousand miles later, Caylin is a red-shirt freshman quarterback for Marist College.
He is a mobile quarterback-when the pocket collapses, Caylin is able to escape the pressure and run. When his home life began to collapse at the age of six, however, he chose not to.
Caylin's hometown, Carson, borders Compton-one of the most crime-ridden and gang-infested cities in the country. In the area in which he lives, it is not unusual to hear sirens ring late into the night, watch drug deals happen on shadowed street corners, walk past homeless men languishing on filth-covered sidewalks, or even lose a loved one. Living in such a district leads people down roads paved in crime and regret, but Caylin has chosen to walk a more virtuous path.
This past year, Caylin was a recipient of the prestigious CDF-California "Beat the Odds Scholarship"-an initiative started by Marian Wright Edelman to honor young men and women for their hard work, academic excellence and perseverance in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.
Odds. This seemingly innocuous word is so meaningful to teens that come from areas like Compton. In LA County, everyone knows their odds: the odds that three out of ten people won't graduate, the odds that 11.2% will be arrested in their lives, and the odds that they could be another of the 4,197 people murdered there this year.
Caylin knows these odds, but no one keeps statistics for what he and his family went through. There is no percentage that indicates the chances of your mother being sexually assaulted in her hospital room after open-heart surgery. No number can predict that your father will shoot his girlfriend from point-blank range. And no data can be compiled to illustrate how difficult it is to endure all this, but Caylin has gone through all three. To fully know Caylin now and appreciate his character, it is essential to start from the beginning.
When Caylin was six years old his mother and father divorced-a rather normal aspect of childhood. What wasn't normal, however, was the barrage of abuse that Caylin's father would unleash upon his family each night.
"You always see those stories on T.V. about a woman taking abuse for years and years and never saying anything, and even letting the children taking the abuse as well," Caylin said. "But my mom was strong. She wasn't that woman that you see on T.V. She decided, 'You know what, I've got to get my kids out of this situation.'"
After Caylin and his mother, older sister and younger brother moved out of their home to escape abuse, they lived in a one-room apartment and had to sleep in the same bed at night. During the day Caylin's mother would work two jobs to support her kids and attend classes at a local community college. When Caylin was eight, his mother required drastic surgery.
"She went in for open heart surgery-she had a tumor on her heart," Caylin said. "That was devastating enough for us because I thought I was going to lose my mom in the fourth grade."
On life's brink she underwent a successful, yet rigorous surgery-the doctors assured her that she would make a full recovery. However, they couldn't predict from what else she would need to recover. She can still remember the sight of the hospital employee assaulting her while she lay in bed, incapable of moving because of the anesthesia.
"I feel like God takes you through things only when he knows that you can finish the mission. My mom is strong. God knows that," Caylin said.
He was right. His mother overcame trauma and finished a mission with which no human should be burdened. Much of her recovery stemmed from Caylin. He noticed a difference in his mother's personality soon after the surgery and knew something was wrong. He took his mother to the shower and urged her to wash her hair-something he later said he had seen in a movie. After this simple act, Caylin's mother was slowly revitalized. Since then, Caylin's mother graduated law school and now works for multiple law firms doing wills, trusts and estate planning for their local church. She is also a professor of law at Summit College in California.
When he was sixteen, Caylin was taken off the field during football practice and told that his father had shot his girlfriend at point-blank range. She was dead, and he was missing.
Caylin thought back to when his father would come home late at night with stray cats that he had found and shoot them in the second floor of their house. He could see the cold look of malice in his father's eyes and hear his furious yelling when he would abuse Caylin and his family. A decade after Caylin's parents divorced, his father was still causing pain. Two years later, Caylin bears no resentment towards his father; he says that his father's actions only harmed himself and no one else.
Today, Caylin has taken all of these childhood wounds, painful memories and arduous struggles to become the man that he is. But who is he?
Caylin is intelligent: he holds a 3.7 G.P.A, majoring in economics and minoring in Spanish. He is also highly ambitious; Caylin hopes to become the president of a bank foundation in the Los Angeles area someday. As president, he would give money to inner-city charities, scholarship programs and housing plans.
"We forget about children and those are the ones that lead the future," Caylin said.
Caylin is dedicated and puts everything he has not only into his schoolwork, but into football as well.
"To me, being a Division I athlete means discipline, it means focus and it means you have to hold yourself to another standard," Caylin said. "You have to set yourself apart a little bit and put yourself in a different path, but still be the same humble person."
Caylin is also thoughtful. On his desk sits a copy of the Bible-whichhe reads each morning before beginning his day and each night before going to sleep. Right next to the Bible he keeps a small, black leather journal with all the words he wants to give to his son one day. One of the lines that can be found in the book comes from the movie "The Shawshank Redemption": "Some birds aren't meant to caged; their feathers are just too bright."
In the drawer of his desk, Caylin keeps a black-and-white picture of a rose sprouting out of concrete. From his concrete garden, Caylin has grown to be that rose, and the stars in his future shine brighter than most who have gone through his struggles. He is a man filled with virtue, a lit candle in the darkness, a boom box in a silent room and a rose that grew from concrete.
Caylin Moore stands 6'1, he weighs 175 pounds, he runs a 40-yard dash in 4.7 seconds, and he can throw a football 60 plus-yards on the fly. But his heart is immeasurable.
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