Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

A Long Way from Home Florida's Carroll Often Considered Suicide as a Teen

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

A Long Way from Home Florida's Carroll Often Considered Suicide as a Teen

Article excerpt

GAINESVILLE -- All he wanted was somewhere to rest, where his

mind and body could ease into neutral without worrying about

the nonstop hell racing around him.

Even the sanctity of a church wasn't enough.

Outside was the brutally real world of Eighth and Cherry

streets in Norristown, Pa. Drugs and death, decay and despair.

Inside, curled in a fetal ball on a cold pew, was Bo Carroll.

Physically exhausted, emotionally drained and close to losing it

all. No home, no family, no future.

And only 15 years old.

"There was a time," Carroll says, "when I thought I wasn't

worth anything. There was a time . . . when I would think about

committing suicide. I thought about it all the time. I had

nowhere to go and no one wanted me."

Things are different these days for Daymon "Bo" Carroll -- in a

way only someone who has been through his ordeal can explain.

His life has gone from a rotting mess to a blossoming future.

He'll run out on the field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium tomorrow

night as the University of Florida's rising freshman tailback.

He has the potential, coach Steve Spurrier says, to score every

time he touches the ball.

But there was a time, Carroll says, when everything he touched

turned sour.

"I don't care if Daymon ever plays a down of football in his

life," said Toia Ellis, one of Carroll's guardians and a high

school teacher in the Norristown school district. "He has to be

self-sufficient. He got out of here. Now he has to make

something of his life."

It was never easy growing up in Norristown, and Eighth and

Cherry was ground zero -- a place like many others where a

city's underbelly is torn apart every day.

It wasn't uncommon for Carroll to come home to a roped-off

street, police cars crowded around a house and a dead man lying

in a pool of blood. Even at school, things were out of control.

There were days students called Salt and Pepper Days, where one

of the two racial groups decided to "beat the hell" out of

anyone in the other group.

When you grow up in a single-parent home, when your mother is

working numerous jobs to raise three children, when your life is

surrounded by decadence and turmoil, you're always under the

gun.

Or in this case, running from it.

"People hear me say I'm from Norristown, and they think of

gangsters," Carroll said. "So many people have died . . .

nothing good ever happens there."

Still, Carroll found a way to get by, with the help of his

mother, Geraldine, and through sports. Then one day five years

ago, Geraldine had a stroke, paralyzing the left side of her

body and throwing her son's life into a spiraling funk.

Because his mother needed 24-hour care at a rehabilitation

center, Carroll was forced to live with relatives. …

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