Cardozo (N.Y.) High senior basketball star Marquis Barnett doesn't have any New Year's resolutions. He has New Year's prayers, wishes which he dreams will finally land his family the stability that others take for granted.
"I just want everything to be normal," Barnett told the New York Daily News. "I hope things change. I really do."
In the past year alone, Barnett has lived through enough trauma to last a lifetime. He has helped his family relocate through three different shelters in the past three years, most recently abandoning the house they had finally grown to call home because of dangerous mold and flooding. He has had to mourn his 11-year-old autistic half brother, Tavon Turpin, who died last February in a fire he had set when he was left unsupervised by Barnett's grandmother in her apartment. All the while, Barnett was trying to help his mother get out of a physically abusive relationship of five years, at one point pulling his mother's boyfriend off her when she was being choked.
All that would be too much for almost anyone to handle, let alone a 17-year-old. Yet, despite all his worries and his role as the family's main male guardian, the Daily News reports that Barnett has found a way to thrive on the basketball court, where he is emerging as a dark-horse candidate for a college scholarship as a strong defensive enforcer.
"I really hope he gets a break," Cardozo coach Ron Naclerio told the Daily News. "He's like the father of the house. He's worried about his mom. He's just a kid.
"He's a kid that I think a lot of people are missing the boat on. He's as strong as anyone in the city. When his offense catches up to his defense, he can really be solid. He deserves a break."
If he gets a collegiate shot, Barnett is likely to make the most of it. Unlike a number of teen basketball stars who dream of NBA glory, Barnett -- who Naclerio said earns better grades than anyone else in his program -- is just looking for a way to get a solid education, which he hopes he can turn into a future in nursing.
With a little luck, there's every chance Barnett could reach that dream in the future. For now, he's just dreaming of finding his family a fourth home in three years.
"My little sister has asthma," Barnett, the oldest of three children, told the Daily News of the family's last apartment. "...We just had to get out of there... When we find something, it's not that good or the rent's too high. The landlord wants the money up front or a certain thing. ...
"My mom is so unique ... she never lets it get to her, and stays strong for us."
One could say that overcoming all his tribulations have made Barnett pretty unique, too.