Colorado recruit Tre'Shaun Fletcher's decision to change his name first seemed odd on the eve of the early signing period in college basketball this week, but it turned out to be a choice rooted in love and respect for a mother who refused to give up on her son.
Fletcher's name change raised a few eyebrows when he signed with coach Tad Boyle's program in Boulder because he had gone through the entire recruiting process and his whole life as Tre'Shaun Lexing. It was the last name of his half-brother's father.
Fletcher said he wanted to pay tribute to his mother, Bobby Fletcher, in some way giving her the proper credit she deserves for helping him earn a college scholarship. What better way than putting his mother's name on the back of his jersey and the degree he hopes to earn?
When Fletcher was in seventh grade, his mother decided she needed to move her family from Arkansas to Washington state where she grew up because she saw her youngest son heading toward trouble. Fletcher said at the time he was hanging out with the wrong people. He said some of his young friends were already becoming parents themselves and others were in gangs.
"It was basically just a real bad place that I shouldn't have been in," Fletcher said. "We moved up here to get closer to family and stuff and basically just to give me an opportunity to own my life."
He didn't agree with his mom's decision at the time, but now five years removed from that dramatic change, Fletcher reflects on his mother's choice and says it might have saved his life. It certainly changed it for the better.
"I'd probably have a kid by now," he said. "Because all my friends that I talk to still, have kids. I'd probably have a kid or probably be in jail. So I love her for that. I appreciate her for that."
The family originally planned to move to Spokane but ended up in Tacoma, where Fletcher attended Lincoln High School and grew to become a standout 6-foot-5 prospect Rivals.com rates as a three-star player.
Fletcher said his mother always has been a strong woman raising five kids. He said she worked hard and developed bad knees and a bad back and eventually was in so much pain, she couldn't continue to carry the same load.
At one point the family became homeless while she struggled to find work she could do and waited for her disability claims to be processed. Fletcher said he lived with friends for awhile during that time and the family nearly had to move back to Arkansas.
Fletcher held a signing ceremony at his high school Wednesday morning and said he broke down in tears at one point while giving a short speech and paused to hug his mom.
"All the stuff I went through with my mom, it just all came out," Fletcher said.
Kyle Ringo covers Colorado for the Daily Camera newspaper in Boulder. Follow him on Twitter @KyleRingo