Scott Adkins is a senior at Whitman High School and 6-foot-6 defensive star for its football team with a shot to play in college.
Regardless of what happens next with his football career, it’s fair to say Adkins has achieved quite a lot in life. Adkins lives in the youth shelter at the National Center for Children and Families on Greentree Road. He has never met his father and was taken from his mother and placed in a foster home at age four or five after police found drugs in the family’s home.
Adkins is one of about 15 students at Whitman who lives in the NCCF’s Greentree Adolescent Program for traumatized, victimized and in many cases poorly socialized young men. Adkins has been charged with burglary, forgery and has served time on house arrest.
When friends ask Scott where he lives, he tells them he’s in the group home. His peers at Whitman know about the group home on Greentree Road in Bethesda. They know there are 15-20 students at their school who don’t go home to their parents at night. “I’m not ashamed of it,” Scott says. “Where I live doesn’t really change me.”
Then they ask why he lives there. “Bad decisions,” he’ll say. He’ll tell them about the mistakes he made at his old high school. The burglary charges, the forgery, his time on house arrest. Some people don’t believe him. He’s nicely dressed and well-spoken. “Proper,” he calls it. He likes reading Shakespeare. He doesn’t seem like a kid who was remanded to a high-intensity group home after spending time in a youth detention center. “Shut up, you didn’t do all that stuff,” friends say.
He has a better way of handling his anger now, he says. Football. His aggression comes out on the line of scrimmage. He can’t pinpoint why he’s angry in that moment — it’s not like he’s consciously thinking about the times his mother used her money to buy drugs instead of feeding him. Or the fact that he’s never met his father. But that’s somewhere inside of him.
Adkins’ biggest moment on the field this season came in a 28-7 win against rival Churchill. He stripped the ball away from the quarterback, recovered it and ran 14 yards for a touchdown, something he told Rich he daydreamed about.
“They showed me the paper–my name was on the All-Met Watch list,” he says. The prestigious honor is reserved for local high school players with the best performances of the week. “Sometimes I wonder if what I did was my skills or just a luck thing. But later that night I got two sacks and one tackle, so I guess I was just playing hard for my last game.”
Adkins said he barely spoke to anybody in his first two foster homes. He came to Greentree from his third foster home, a single woman who adopted him when he was 7:
”I started growing when I moved in with her. She has pictures. She says it’s like I sprouted–I got so tall that I hit the bunk bed. I think it’s because I was happy,” he says. When he was eight, he asked if he could call her “mom.”
Now, Adkins is a recruiting target for college football coaches. The goal, of course, is to make it to the NFL, in large part to support his siblings who live with his mother or their fathers. Adkins has one of his brother’s names tattooed on his chest:
His birth mother, who recently contacted him on Facebook, has nine other children. Some live with their fathers; he is the only one who was adopted. “They’re not at the greatest place right now,” he says. He wants them to see him on TV one day. “Everybody deserves a second chance, or a third or fourth, to prove to themselves that they’re not what they were made out to be.”
He has one brother’s name tattooed on his chest–the brother he lived in the car with–and a shooting star etched in ink on his arm. The letters on his fingers spell FAME. On his neck, he has the red and yellow Superman symbol. “It’s not just an ‘S’–it’s a symbol for hope,” he says. People ask him why he won’t get his tattoos removed or covered up. “If I get them covered up, I’ll lose the meaning,” Scott says. “All of my tattoos are reminders.”
For the full story, read Rich’s story here. Photo is by Chris Hanessian via NCCF.