Persevering after death of mother and grandmother, Minneapolis teen wins scholarship

Freshawn Collins has overcome so much in his life and he's not even out of high school. His hard work is now being recognized with a college scholarship. (FOX 9)

Beating the odds: That’s what one senior at North High School in Minneapolis is doing after essentially raising himself when his mother was killed and his grandmother then passed away.

Out of hundreds of students, the 18-year-old was recently awarded a scholarship that will help him go to college.

Showing up and working hard are values that come naturally to Freshawn Collins. The 18 year old has faced adversity starting at a young age when his mother was shot and killed when he was only 5.

"Ever since that day, I just feel lost without a mother," he said.

At the time, his father was in a gang and not really in Freshawn’s life. After the devastating loss of his mother, his grandmother stepped in to raise Freshawn and his siblings.

Losing his mom at age five left a void in Freshawn's life. But that hasn't stopped him from succeeding. (Supplied)

"She made me into who I am today," Freshawn explained. "Made sure that I was responsible, that I had a lot of courage, a lot of bravery to go out and seek what I want."

His grandmother then became sick with cancer and eventually passed away. There were times where Freshawn would rush home from basketball practice to take care of his dying grandmother and manage the household - but he still made the honor roll.

After the death of his mom, Freshawn's grandmother took over, raising him and his siblings. (Supplied)

Freshawn is one of only a handful of seniors across the Twin Cities metro to receive the "Beat the Odds" scholarship which is handed out by the Children’s Defense Fund. The award goes to a student who has persevered despite many challenges.

He says it took a lot of hard work, but also the support of the village around him including Coach Larry McKenzie and one of his teachers, Nafeesah Muhammad.

"Everybody can be something in life," said Muhammad. "It’s just how you put yourself in a position to do it."

And Freshawn still finds time to give back to the community. He says it’s important to set an example of how to never give up to his younger teammates.

"Nothing comes easy, you need to go get it for yourself," said Freshawn. "Nobody is going to hand it to you, nobody is going to give it to you. You need to go seek it out for yourself."

After graduation, Freshawn will be using that scholarship to attend the University of St. Thomas. He plans on studying business, hoping to become an entrepreneur one day.

All five of this year’s Beat the Odds honorees, including Freshawn, will be recognized at the Children’s Defense Fund-Minnesota Beat the Odds Awards Celebration event to be held on March 19, 2020. For sponsorships, tickets, or more information, please contact:

For more information on the Children's Defense Fund, click here.