Akeem Rhymes moved between Georgia and Florida several times since he began high school, due to circumstances beyond his control.
“I was in a different house every year,” he said.
Rhymes started his freshman year with his grandmother where he stayed with his twin brother. For his sophomore year, Rhymes was in Gainesville, Fla., with his mother.
At the start of his junior year, Rhymes decided to move to Dallas with his father, after learning that his father developed some health problems concerning his gall bladder. They stayed in a motel, where, according to Paulding County assistant coach Jason Shaw, Akeem was often alone and scared.
A year later Rhymes found his things on the street as he and his father were kicked out for not paying for the room. However, Rhymes recalled his father also had been jailed on an undisclosed charge that same day, leaving him alone.
Before his senior year, Rhymes was taken in by Dale and Yvette Myers, the parents of his friend, Antonio Lester. Shaw said he knew of Rhymes’ predicament.
“Such a good kid and a sad situation,” Shaw recalled.
Rhymes, a wide receiver and linebacker for the Patriots, said Shaw “was like my dad.”
“He just was there. He had my back,” Rhymes said.
In an effort to give Rhymes a better opportunity, Shaw and the Myers worked to get Rhymes into college.
They first tried Reinhardt University, a first-year football program, but Rhymes said they offered very little money. St. Francis University in Illinois was their second stop, but when the school gave Rhymes possible scholarship money to two players that were kicked out of University of Illinois, their plan completely fell through, Shaw said.
“He was very discouraged when we failed with St. Francis, but I kept him encouraged,” Shaw said.
Not wanting to let Rhymes down, Shaw said he frantically called every college and university with which he had contacts at and would not stop until he could get Rhymes a full ride. All of that is behind him now as he has signed a scholarship to Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisc.
Far from the trials he faced in the South, Rhymes will be playing football at a NCAA Division III school, right off of Lake Michigan.