Antoine Turner’s story is an inspirational one reminiscent of Michael Oher’s.
With no family contacts, the Boise State University recruit has been living out of a car for most of his life, not knowing where his next meal was coming from or if it was coming at all.
His situation didn’t deter him from his ambition of being a Division I defensive tackle.
A wave of sympathy for Turner prompted the university to warn fans that helping Turner financially would be a violation of NCAA rules.
Here’s what you need to know about Turner’s inspirational story:
1. He’s Homeless
At the age of 4, Turner was devastated when his mother died of cancer. Turner and his father never got along, so he left home a few years after his mother’s death and moved to his uncle’s. When his uncle was killed during Hurricane Katrina, the house he had been living in was destroyed too and prompted him to move to Tustin, California after changing homes several times thereafter, leading to his gang involvement.
THE JOURNEY BEGINS I CANT WAIT TO SEE MY NEW HOME ON THAT BLUE…THEY W ILL HAVE TO DRAG ME OFF pic.twitter.com/FHtLQ7zPSJ
— Antoine L. Turner (@AiReZsO720) February 7, 2014
When Turner arrived in California, he had only “a suitcase and a dream.” He had no money or outside help and slept on a park bench where he lost 70 pounds. He lived in an uncle’s house sporadically, but because of regulations on his uncle’s housing, he was no longer able to stay there. In the meantime, he has been going back and forth between living in his girlfriend‘s car and motels.
Turner told National Recruiting Analysis‘ Brandon Huffman he finally found a place to call home:
As soon I touched that field, I knew it was the place for me. Aside from the color being so strong, it all crashed down on me. Everything I’ve been through. I could picture all the fans. I was in a stadium that big, that I’d seen on television. I’m a small town kid from Louisiana and I’m standing on the field of a stadium I’d only seen on television. It was amazing. I knew then I had a chance to start a legacy at the school.
2. He Was Drawn in By a Gang
When Turner was drifting from home to home after the loss of his home and relatives in 2005, he found himself in the position of having to protect himself during the chaos of Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath. He spoke of the involvement to KTVB in an interview stating:
They had some big guys running New Orleans’ streets, and they’d ask me to take this from point A to point B. It would be anything for narcotics, weed, anything they just put in my bag. Sometimes I wouldn’t even look because I’d be scared.
His community was never the same after the storm and he was all alone. In the KTVB interview, he said the gang members were the only ones who cared about protecting him from the chaos ravaging the city. However, he knew he had to find a way to escape that way of life and he turned to football for an out. In the interview he said:
What happened was, they found out I was playing sports. I was playing football and I wasn’t having to go home until late at night. That kept me out of the streets. That kept be out of trouble.
The next step was Fullerton College in California.
3. He Transferred From Fullerton College to Boise State
Turner signed a letter of intent to be a Bronco in February, 2014. With a hard work ethic in academics and on the football field at Fullerton College in California, he was discovered by Boise State coach Bryan Harsin and recruited to be on the 2014 roster. Harsin was immediately drawn to Turner’s personality and gave Turner his only scholarship offer.
Harsin spoke to the Idaho Statesman about Turner’s resilience:
He’s had to do a lot to get here. He’s earned this. He’s expected to come in here and graduate and play and play at a high level. Along the way, he’s got a really great personality and I liked him from the get-go when he came on his visit. His experience and his attitude is going to do more for this team outside of the football part of things, in my opinion.
@tcliner21 Thank you for the kind words…I just want to help boise obtain the ultimate goal, get my Plan A a Degree, and than Plan B NFL
— Antoine L. Turner (@AiReZsO720) May 14, 2014
4. His Girlfriend Transferred to Boise State to Be With Him
Turner met his girlfriend, R’Mya DeMarrco, at a party his freshman year at Fullerton College after moving out to California. His grades suffered his first year of college and DeMarrco broke up with him, telling him that she refused to date him until his grades improved, which they eventually did.
The couple is now together again and DeMarrco’s support has been invaluable to Turner.
She even sleeps in her car with him when he has no where else to go. DeMarrco plans on transferring from Cal State Fullerton to Boise State this year to live with Turner.
5. The NCAA Agreed to Let Boise State Give Him Aid
After Boise State's request last night, the school may provide immediate assistance to football student-athlete Antoine Turner.
— NCAA (@NCAA) May 14, 2014
Many viewers of KTVB’s show scrambled immediately to offer their support for the young man after his interview this past Sunday. The institution had to issue a statement warning fans of the team that they couldn’t help Turner because in doing so, his eligibility would be taken away due to NCAA regulations prohibiting extra benefits not limited to money, discounts, free meals, and other tangible items (e.g., clothes, airline tickets, gifts).
To see the full list of NCAA prohibitions on extra benefits click here.
As of right now the NCAA has confirmed that they will accept Boise State’s waiver to provide necessary food and shelter for Turner.
Turner has been granted full tuition, room and board, books, and fees according to the University.