“…Survive and prevail. There is a tiny and brilliant light burning in the heart of man that will not go out, no matter how dark the world becomes.” When Leo Tolstoy said this, he was talking about JaJuan Cherry.
JaJuan is a running back for the Snow College football team. Growing up in North Miami, he lived a life most of us could only imagine. With 15 kids on his dad’s side, and six on his mom’s, he had to quickly learn how to raise himself. His mom and dad weren’t around, so the kids were raised by their grandma. “There was no love or male influence in my life,” JaJuan said. “I grew up in a lot of poverty, pain, and anger. We got evicted from every house we were in.”
In grade 4, JaJuan missed 76 days of school. In grade 6, his best friend got shot leaving his house. Seeing brothers in and out of the prison system, he knew that was not the path he wanted to take. With all these hardships, JaJuan ended up spending almost five years in the foster care system. He was adopted by his high school principal in grade 9. He has two foster brothers. “The foster care system saved my life,” he said.
JaJuan started playing football in grade 9. His biggest goal was to never go back to his neighborhood and hear about what he could have been. He got his first D1 football scholarship offer that year as well to FAU. He finished high school with 10 offers. Some of those were from schools such as Florida State, Virginia Tech, Penn State, Stanford, Purdue, and University of Miami. He ended up choosing USF because he knew it was his best chance to play right away.
After his freshman year at USF, JaJuan knew he needed to leave Florida, so he ended up at Snow College. He says life is better here than at USF. “People are so nice here and not racist like people think. Also, the ladies in the cafeteria are great. Shout out to them!” This place has helped him find who he needs to be. It has helped him slow down and see life. “Snow College gets an A+ from me,” he said. “You just have to trust the process.”