As DeQuinton Osbourne walked across the stage with a degree in hand from Oklahoma State, his mom was in the stands cheering for her baby boy. Together, they overcame many obstacles.
DeQuinton’s mother, Dorothy, had plenty of reasons to quit. She was raped at the age of 9, a mother at 13 and was on her own by 16.
She found out she was pregnant during a physical examination before track practice at her middle school in South Grand Prairie, Texas. Dorothy was just 12 and had four months to prepare to be a mother.
“I had no idea,” she told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “I was basically homeless. My parents were both drug addicts. Crack was the problem. I had no brothers or sisters. I was living with the father.”
The father was 17 and he would be out of his son’s life three years later. Dorothy moved into state-assisted, low-income housing near her high school, entered a work-study program and worked at McDonalds. DeQuinton would be in child care from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Dorothy had other hurdles to climb as well.
“People would call me a whore,” she told the Star-Telegram. “Every day I was dealing with somebody. I had those ‘Why me?’ questions. Now, I’m a Christian and I have faith, and everything does happen for a reason.”
Dorothy graduated from South Grand Prairie High School and earned a degree in nursing at the University of Texas at Arlington. After landing a job at a doctor’s office, she met her husband, Derrick White. The two have been together for 17 years.
White introduced DeQuinton to football and he thrived on the field. But his struggles in the classroom almost took away any hopes of playing in college. He needed three A’s and two B’s during the spring semester of his senior year, so Dorothy sat down her son with school counselors and coaches and laid out a plan for him to earn a scholarship. And he did, a football scholarship to the University of Missouri.
“On May 31, Missouri offered him a full ride,” DeQuinton’s high school football coach Brent Whitson said. “It reinforced to me what kids can do. Teachers don’t want to fail you. He was just a teenager. He put in the effort. He was doing with schoolwork what he had done with football the previous fall. You could just see the light had come on.”
DeQuinton’s stint with Missouri was short lived, however. Often in the coaches’ doghouse, he transferred to Kilgore College in Texas. With her son’s football dreams in shambles, Dorothy decided to tell him her story. All of it.
“Before that I had told him bits and pieces. I would use my experience to tell him to stay away from trouble,” she said. “When we had that conversation about everything, it was not easy. He was mad. He cried. He punched the wall. We just had to get it out, and it drew us closer together.”
Two years after playing at Kilgore College, DeQuinton briefly signed on to play for Baylor before landing with the Oklahoma State Cowboys. There, DeQuinton became an All-Big 12 player and a two-year starter. Passed over in the NFL Draft, he signed as a free agent to play for the Dallas Cowboys.
But his proudest moment was taking those steps across the stage in Stillwater to accept his degree in education.
I love my mother. She my heart, glad I could see her smile. Big 12 academic all American ✊? pic.twitter.com/z4MWQqWeAP
— DeQuinton Osborne (@3techFinesse) April 18, 2017
DeQuinton is now looking to keep his pro football dreams alive, as he was released by the Dallas Cowboys on Wednesday. As he tries to make an NFL roster, he will draw strength from his mom, who showed him how to overcome obstacles to make a dream come true.
“To you, what she did is unbelievable, but to me, it was my life. I grew up with it,” DeQuinton said. “I am more thankful than ever for who she is. Words … I can’t explain how grateful I am. She was always behind me.”
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