In the college football world, this is the time of year where the newest crop of football players enrolls at universities across the country. Pitt freshman Patrick Amara is one of these college football newcomers, but his story is different than the average prospect.
Jerry DiPaola of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review published a great feature over the weekend about Amara’s journey from being homeless and living with numerous families in Philadelphia to his new life as a scholarship athlete at the University of Pittsburgh.
Amara was born in London and barely knew his mother while living in Philadelphia with his father, a former government security officer for Sierra Leone, a small country in western Africa. Amara’s father, struggling to earn a living and keep the lights on, returned to Sierra Leone, so Patrick lived with “six or seven” families around the city during his high school years.
“He was a great father, and I appreciated everything he did, but I said. ‘I think it’s best for you to go back home and live your life,’” Amara said.
After his father left, Amara said he wondered where his next meal would come from or where he would stay “every day.”
“Once you’re starving and you see your friends say, ‘Oh, my mom cooked dinner for me,’ you start to feel that loneliness. You’re not eating (regularly). You’re mad. You have practice. You’re fatigued,” he said.
Amara, who said he “often ate sardines for dinner or dollar meals at a Save A Lot grocery store,” admitted there was a time he considered associating himself with people who were selling drugs and had weapons.
He called one of them.
“I said, ‘Bro, I can’t take it anymore. Is there any way I can make some fast money?’ He just laughed. He said, ‘No way I would let you do something like this.’ I said, ‘I’m not going to do it anyway.’ I had too much to lose. God blessed me with the strength, the mindset, the focus to stay on track,” Amara said.
Amara eventually moved in with his now-godparents, Tony and Lisa Beaty. Amara was working out at a gym owned by Beaty, a local football coach. Beaty noticed Amara was losing weight, who admitted he had not been eating on a regular basis. Soon after, the Beaty’s invited Amara into their home.
Amara, a three-star prospect from West Catholic High School, earned a scholarship offer from Pitt after taking a seven-hour bus ride from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh for a prospect camp. He committed a few days later.
At 6-foot-2 and 190 pounds, Amara will play safety for the Panthers and hopes to make an early impact.
For more Pittsburgh news, visit Panther-lair.com.
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