Looking at Desmond Hubert's ever-smiling face, you would never know how much he has been through in his life.
In 2007, at the age of 14, Hubert lost his single mother to a 10-year battle with cancer. Just one year before she passed, the two packed up and moved from Florida to New Jersey, so he could get to know the man who would be taking care of him the rest of the way.
That man was his uncle, Henry Jackson, who made the heartwrenching promise to look over his sister's son when she passed.
For Hubert, it was a new town, a new life and a new parental figure. He could have taken a much darker path, given his situation. But Hubert pushed forward, never changing who he was inside.
Both Jackson and basketball helped to keep him focused.
Eventually, he would become the 15th-ranked center in the country (Scout.com) and land in one of the nation's elite college basketball programs. He averaged 16 points, nine rebounds and six blocks per game as a senior at New Egypt High School.
Getting there wasn't so easy, though.
“(At the beginning) he couldn’t catch a cold,” his high school coach told The Daily Tar Heel. “You’d throw a ball at him, and you’re pretty close to breaking his nose eight out of 10 times.”
Hubert would go on to total over 1,500 points, 1,000 rebounds and a whopping 750 blocks during his high school days.
But when he landed in Chapel Hill, it was another world of talent compared to the competition he faced at the small school in Jersey. During his limited minutes as a freshman, Hubert often looked lost on the floor
Many folks—myself included—saw him as a lifetime benchwarmer at Chapel Hill.
Then he worked his butt off over the summer to gain 20 pounds and improve his game. His development earned Hubert the starting nod in 18 of the the Tar Heels' first 23 games in 2012-13. Now he is recognized as the best defensive center on the roster.
For more on Desmond Hubert's touching story, you can read the original article at NJ.com.