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Southwest Baptist University gives scholarship to homeless teen who never played high school varsity football

Published: Feb. 8, 2021 at 6:31 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Southwest Baptist University is giving a homeless teen from Nigeria the chance to play college football even though he’s never played a down of high school varsity ball.

At 6-4, 275-pounds Leslie Adindu certainly has the look of a promising football prospect.

Except he knew nothing about the game until two years ago when he moved with his father from Nigeria to Fort Worth, Texas.

It was then that Arlington Heights high school football coach Charles Perry noticed Adindu, then a junior, in a P.E. class. Perry asked him to play for the junior varsity team and Adindu decided to get his first experience with that funny-shaped ball.

“I couldn’t throw it,” Adindu recalled. “Normally you have to hold the ball at the letter part. I didn’t know you had to do that. I just flung it and it didn’t go far.”

Adindu didn’t join the J-V until the latter part of the season and only played in a few games.

“When we first started he couldn’t even get into a stance,” Perry said.

Yet in his first game he had three sacks and two tackles.

Not that he comprehended any of it.

“I didn’t really know what I did until after the game,” he said as Perry laughed.

This past season Adindu turned 19 years-old which because of state age limits left him unable to play high school football. He also had a falling out with his father, who left town and left Leslie homeless. He ended up living at a local shelter.

“In that situation you’re surrounded by people who have lost hope,” Perry said.

But Adindu’s supporters didn’t lose hope. They put together a minute, 20-second highlight reel of Leslie’s practice game footage that caught the eye of several college head coaches including Robert Clardy at Southwest Baptist who invited Adindu to visit the Christian School in Bolivar and meet the staff.

“Whenever he came here and told me his story, we were captivated by it,” Clardy said. He’s a kid that’s been handed a lot of extreme adversity in his life and he’s persevered. That’s the type of guy you want on the football field.”

Last week Adindu chose to sign a scholarship offer with SBU over three other colleges and there’s already been a groundswell of support from Bearcat fans in Bolivar.

“There’s so many people that have reached out to see what they can do,” Clardy said. “Obviously from an NCAA standpoint you have to be careful with that but this is going to be his new home. A place that’s gonna care for him and love him and guide him.”

For now though Adindu is still living and working at that homeless shelter in Fort Worth. He’s doing well academically and plans on majoring in either law or business when he comes to SBU with hopefully more promising days ahead.

“This is the Cinderella success story that you hope for,” Perry said.

“Just don’t give up,” Adindu said of the unique experience that’s led him to a new chapter in his life. “Do the best you can and leave the rest to God.”

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