The chances are pretty good that few kids playing high school football in Minnesota have had the kind of life Dominic Leu has had.
The Barnesville, Minn., defensive end’s story, fantastically told in the Fargo Forum today, renews an old reflection and question: Why is it some kids survive the very worst life can throw at you and others do not?
And so far, from what we can tell, there’s nothing that life hasn’t thrown at young Dominic.
Let’s just pick it up mid-story. He stole iPads from school when he was 11 to buy a ticket to Chicago to find his mother, with whom he’d connected on social media.
When Leu made it to Chicago he had no idea how to find his mother, so he just wandered the streets. He’d wash his clothes in the Chicago River and did what he needed to for food, mostly searching the dumpsters near colleges for things to sell for a month.
“I was walking through Navy Pier and I saw some Indians and we talked about where we were all from and I found out my great grandpa was where they were from, so one let me use their phone to call my mom,” Leu said. “We met at a McDonald’s and I went home with her. I was so happy. I was gleeful with her.”
He could tell by her face something was different. It wasn’t long before he walked in on her doing meth. For six months, the two stayed at her place, which was only a couch and a bed. He still scrounged for food.
Leu and his mother had to return to White Earth, Minn., when Leu’s grandmother, his mother’s mother, died. During the four-day preparation for the afterlife the Ojibwe celebrate with song and prayer, Leu found his mother smoking meth. He knocked the drugs out of her hands in disgust.
“I asked her how she could do that. This was her mother,” Leu said. “She said, ‘Well, I’m your mother. Why don’t you go back to ICW? I didn’t want you.’ I told her, ‘I will do better in life. I will become better than you. I’ll show everyone I’m not dumb.'”
He went to live with his uncle in Ada. His uncle died of a stroke.
His social worker had one last idea: Send him to live with Curt and Gwen Goodman in Barnesville in foster care.
You can read the story to see how that’s gone and decide whether one of the answers to our ongoing question is there are still people out there like Curt and Gwen Goodman.
(h/t: Jennifer Ehrlich)