Anthony lost both his home and his mother at the beginning of seventh grade. Until word of his situation reached his childhood basketball coach, Anthony was at the mercy of other people’s generosity. Luckily, Coach James Brewer and his wife, Debbie, opened their home to Anthony, inviting him to become the newest member of the Brewer family.
“Family isn’t always blood. It’s the people who want you in their life,” Anthony said.
Along with his new home, name, and siblings, Anthony also gained the security he had always longed for. Under the Brewers’ generous and secure roof, Anthony flourished in the classroom and on the basketball court.
Luckily for Berea College, Anthony’s name also found its way to the desk of John Hemenway, Head Coach of the Berea Mountaineers men’s basketball team. Anthony said, “First it was Coach Brewer—Dad—and then it was Coach Hemenway. I’m lucky to have met good people who saw my potential. They helped me see it too.”
“He’s a natural leader. He was always working, always keeping the ball moving,” Coach Hemenway said, “He really motivated the guys. He won me over, quick.”
After a few quick chats with Anthony, Coach Hemenway won Anthony over as well. “Not having to pay tuition was huge,” Anthony said. “I felt so good taking that expense off my family’s plate since they’d already given me so much.”
Anthony helped the Mountaineers earn four consecutive winning seasons. He was also named team captain and All-American two years in a row, and he shattered multiple school records, including all-time assists.
“His assists speak for themselves,” Coach Hemenway said. “Anthony was more interested in helping the team win, not just making himself look good. But more than that, he was a role model. Everybody knew him and couldn’t help but like him—they even voted him Homecoming King. On and off the court, he showed up when he said he would and brought this positive energy that you just had to see to believe.”
“Berea classes are no joke,” Anthony said, smiling. “I came out of high school with a 3.7 GPA, so I thought I’d be good in college. Then that 2.4 average hit me the first term, and I said, ‘I need to step it up here too.’”
So he buckled down, declared a major in Education, and improved his grades alongside his game. But above all, Anthony was brave enough to ask for help.
“In one class, my first paper came back an F. It hurt, but then I went to my professor’s office hours, then the writing center, and…my next papers got one grade higher until my last one got an A,” Anthony said. “Everywhere I looked for help, there was somebody there to give it. They really inspired me to teach that way when it was my turn in front of a class.”
Year after year of this dedicated effort eventually led Anthony to graduate with honors from Berea College with his degree in Education. Shortly after graduation, Anthony received a rare call from his biological uncle. “He said my college degree was the first in our entire family. It was surreal because I didn’t even know it until I’d already done it.”
Before he would find his own classroom, Anthony took an opportunity to keep building his career skills through BereaCorps, Berea’s career bridge program that offers staff positions at Berea College to recent graduates.
“It was one more opportunity Berea gave me to improve my life,” Anthony said. “Like everything else at Berea, it works if you do.”
By 2019, Anthony’s hard work and endless optimism led him to starting graduate school and earning his first teaching job at an inner-city middle school in Louisville, Kentucky, just north of his hometown. On top of fulfilling one of his dreams, Anthony was doubly thrilled to teach students who are the exact age he was when he needed help the most.
“I want to be there for them because someone was for me, multiple times. I want to be a role model for Black kids growing up like I did, who don’t see many people who look like them called ‘Doctor,’” Anthony said. “That’s why I’ll go for a Ph.D. after my master’s, to show them if I can do it, they can too.”
Anthony’s drive to pass his blessings on to others in need shows the powerful example you set when you give to Berea College, and that through helping Berea students like Anthony, your generosity ripples out to countless more deserving young people. By making a gift today at www.berea.edu/give or sending a check in the enclosed envelope, you can show the next generation of Berea students that, in Anthony’s words, “Success isn’t about the hand you’re dealt, but how you play it.”