Wilson has will to succeed

March 25, 2005|by WANDA T. WILLIAMS

HAGERSTOWN - Life hasn't always been easy for 17-year-old Tyrell Wilson.

He was born into a high-crime neighborhood in Bridgeport, Conn., and his mother, Kimberly Wilson, said she battled poverty and homelessness to raise her son.

"It was a struggle to put food on the table at times," said Kimberly Wilson, who moved with Tyrell and his younger brother to Hagerstown about six years ago, in search of a better life.

The North Hagerstown High School junior basketball player and honor student spent his early years in an environment that could have altered the path of his life. But Wilson has excelled despite the obstacles he has faced. Next week, he'll be honored as the Boys & Girls Club of Washington County's Youth of the Year.


Wilson was chosen from eight Washington County students competing for the award based on his outstanding volunteer service to the club, family values, community service and letters of recommendation from Washington County educators, a club representative said.

"Tyrell represents how perseverance can help you advance despite different obstacles that kids face these days," said, North Hagerstown High School English teacher Kimberly Mazur.

The award, which is usually given to seniors, is evidence of Wilson's maturity.

"You can let hardships make you weaker or stronger," he said.

"I'm really honored, but I'm really glad that it makes my mom happy," he said with a slight grin.

Through the support of his family, Wilson said he's grown stronger.

When he was 12, Wilson said, his family helped him cope with the death of his uncle, Jason Wilson, who died at the age of 22.

"We moved to Hagerstown to be with him, and then he was killed in an automobile accident a few years later," he said.

To fill the void created by his father's absence - Wilson said he was 8 years old when he last saw his father - and the death of his uncle, Wilson said he was encouraged by mentors such as Boys & Girls Club staff member Darnell Smith.

"I can talk to my mom about things, but that's a woman's view. Sometimes it helps to get a man's view about issues in life. Darnell is like the only father I've ever known," Wilson said.

Wilson keeps his grades up, works a part-time job and volunteers daily at the Pennsylvania Avenue Boys & Girls Club, where he mentors and works with youth.

"Tyrell represents what we need in every community - someone who benefits from what someone else has done and is able to give back more than what he or she receives," Boys & Girls Club Operations Manager Harry "Buck" Browning said.

As a single mom, Kimberly Wilson, now 34, said Tyrell's success is a source of inspiration for her family.

"He's been good all around. I've never had no outside troubles with Tyrell. And, as a boy, he's a big help around the house. He's good in school, but he also helps keep the house clean," she said.

Wilson will receive a plaque and an academic scholarship Thursday at the Boys & Girls Club of Washington County's annual Steak & Burger Dinner and fund-raiser.

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