WHEN EVERYTHING FALLS APART
Though never married, his parents were together on and off for 13 years. Each had a decent job. Lamar and his younger sister and brother never went hungry, really didn’t want for anything.
Then everything fell apart.
His parents split for good. His mom got a second job, and left Lamar in charge of making sure everybody did homework, did chores, ate dinner and got to bed on time. Their mother met a new man and things looked up for a while; they married, and the family moved to a better neighborhood.
But the new man abused alcohol, then abused Lamar’s mother – verbally first, then physically. Then she lost her job. Bills stacked up; the rent man came knocking.
“One day, I came home from school, and there’s no home,” he says. “No home. Locked out.”
They spent that night, the first of many, sleeping in their cars.
Unable to find jobs, Lamar’s mother and her husband started a lawn-care business. On most days, they made enough money so everybody could eat. On good days, they got food and a hotel room for the night. Sometimes they’d jimmy the lock on their former home’s back door, and sleep there.
Still, their mom insisted the kids go to school. Lamar remembers her saying, “the way you can help me is by you getting your education.” Then she added: “I don’t care how rough it is, you guys will be going to school.”
With the assistance and understanding of his teachers, school social workers and folks from Outreach Inc., Lamar graduated from high school in 2007, “the happiest day of my life,” he says. He broke down in tears when he saw his diploma, a symbol, he says, of “all that I went through and all that I fought for.”
He attended Indiana State University for two years and then transferred to Eastern Illinois University where he graduated with a degree in journalism in May of 2011. Not long afterward, he headed to Texas for his first reporting job at KBMT TV station. And then in January of 2012, Lamar landed a job as a multimedia journalist and fill-in news anchor for WANE-TV News Channel 15 in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
“Words can’t describe the journey that I’ve been through and the people who’ve helped me along the way,” he says. “It’s amazing. I can’t wait until I am at a point where I can give back because I surely believe in giving back full circle.”