Homeless in fourth grade, UConn linebacker Vontae Diggs has found peace with Huskies

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(WTNH)–Things are supposed to be good for a kid. Not easy, but at least good. That was rarely the case for UConn linebacker Vontae Diggs.

“Basically my mom made some really bad choices back in her time. and it all caught up to her. Bad timing,” he said.

That bad timing led Diggs, then only in the fourth grade, and his family to be homeless, living in a car in Chicago.

“Growing up you always want to do what everyone else is doing and you can’t. You have to wear the same clothes, you barely have enough toothpaste to last you two brushes. You’re washing up in a McDonald’s bathroom. So it was just tough that I couldn’t do the things I wanted to,” he said.

And it was even tougher for a young Diggs to process what his life had become.

“You blame yourself a lot, you blame your mom a lot, a lot of bickering and fighting in the famliy, but we try to stay as close as we can.”

Things would improve. His mother found a job with Waste Management and Diggs moved in with another fmaily.

“Ever since that day, they’ve helped me do everything.”

His high school football coach did too.

“He was like ‘Look, you’ve got the talent to do something here,’ and he tried to get me on track,” Diggs said. “I’d get on track and then get off track, and then get back on it, and then finally I got my first offer from Toledo, and that’s when my coach was like, ‘See I told you, this is a real thing for you so what do you want to do?'”

Diggs says he knows what he wants to do now. After college, he wants to go back home.

“I basically want to be a high school counsellor because I’ve lived in poverty so I can connect with the kids in poverty. Anything you can think, I’ve done or seen or whatever.”

And even though Diggs is looking forward, he’s never forgotten about his past.

“There’s not a day that goes past that I don’t think about it. I’ve had a lot of people back home who’ve done a lot for me, so for me to leave here without a degree or mess it up someway, somehow, I’d feel like an absolute failure and I wouldn’t be able to go back home.”

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