I was 12 years old when I got kicked out of school.

I was a smart kid, I even made straight A’s, but I acted up too much in the classroom and eventually paid the price for it. I ended up getting into some trouble with one of my teachers and got kicked out of my middle school.

When my Mom came in to transfer me and handle the paperwork my principal called the teacher in the room.

He told my Mom straight up that she did a terrible job raising me. He called me a problem child and said I’d be dead or in jail before I finished high school.

That was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to watch.

Knowing how hard my mom struggled for me and my brothers, making sure we had enough to eat and could live a better life than she had—and then to see someone so blatantly disrespect her to her face.

And it was all on me…

I was the reason it happened and it felt like I’d given someone the right to disrespect my mother. I put her in that position.

She thought I was crying because I got kicked out of school. No. I was crying because I knew how important she was in our lives. She deserved so much better and here I was acting a fool in class making her seem like a bad parent.

Up until that point I wore No. 2 in every sport.

Football, basketball, whatever it was, that was my number. After what happened at my old school my new number was 12, a reminder to myself to never let anything like that happen again.

That number’s meant a lot to me, always has and always will. I wear 57 now at Auburn because it adds up to 12. It’ll never leave me. I even have it tattooed on my arm.

It was probably the most life-changing moment I’ve had. I learned that my actions don’t only reflect on myself, they reflect on everyone who loves me.

12 reminds me that no matter what you do in life, no matter how good you are there’s always gonna be that one person who looks down on you or thinks you shouldn’t be in the position you are. It reminds me that I always have to keep going and be my best no matter what.

I’ve always learned to care less what people say about me because no matter how good you do people, they’ll always be those who will try and tare you down.

I’ve committed to never putting my mother through something like that again but honestly wouldn’t change that moment.

Even with the pain, I put her through at that time, looking back it feels like it was a part of my destiny. Without it I wouldn’t be the man I am today, the role model that I am to my brothers or to the kids watching me on TV.

If that situation didn’t happen I don’t know if I’d even be telling you this story right now.

I probably wouldn’t be a First Team All-SEC linebacker.

I might not even be playing at Auburn.

I hate to think about it because of the terrible things she had to hear, but when I think back, it really changed my life.

Where I’m from, kids get told every day that they’ll never amount to much, but I didn’t let that tear me down and neither should anyone else.


Deshaun Davis | Contributor

Linebacker, Auburn University