You may have heard about Deonte Bridges’ life story or watched his moving and inspiring valedictorian speech that’s been circulating around the web (if not, see below, it’s worth the 5 minutes!). Growing up as an African American in a neighborhood surrounded by drugs, guns and violence, he experienced one challenge after another, including being robbed at gunpoint, his mother’s diagnosis of leukemia, and the death of a brother.
But he rose above it all, and in his speech expressed his gratitude to God and his family, and payed tribute to his own inner strength, values, and drive to succeed: “to do what is necessary… not popular.”
So what’s the secret of his success? How did he rise above temptation, trial, and tragedy to become the first male, African American valedictorian of Booker T. Washington High, in over a decade?
Mom Logic went straight to the source: his proud mother, Paris Hardaway. When asked what advice she would give to other moms, this is what she said:
“I would tell them to continue to support and love their kids. Let them know that if nobody else has their back, you do. Encourage them in any way, form or fashion. Say good things to them no matter what the outside world says. Every day is a fight, so stay in the fight and focus on goals and dreams. You’re there with them and you want them to see they can accomplish all they desire to do.”
I don’t know if people reading this realize how very wise she is, but I’m awed by her words- so simple and yet so powerful. What I hear her saying is that in order for a child to succeed, he needs to know he is capable of success. He needs to know that someone believes in him, and only then can he believe in himself. We as parents should always remember that it is we who build our children’s self esteem and give them confidence to succeed in life.
We salute Ms. Hardaway, and wish her son Deonte success in every way!