Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Teenager Turned His Life Around

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Teenager Turned His Life Around

Article excerpt

Tayvon White sat next to Jack Nicklaus at a First Tee banquet last summer prior to the U.S. Open. They chatted, Nicklaus told White to "keep up the good work" and then the Hall of Fame golfer shared stories of his 18 major victories with a mostly rapt crowd.

"I had no idea who he was," White said. "When I found out, I was just laughing. I thought, 'I'm pretty lucky to be sitting here right now.' "

The 17-year-old from Allentown, who spent parts of his childhood shifting homes and dodging violence, needed more than luck to achieve that moment. After witnessing the kind of life that sent his mother and an uncle to prison, White instead found an alternate path through his grandfather and golf.

Last year, White, who began playing golf through the Lehigh Valley's First Tee chapter, wrote an essay describing the challenges he has overcome. That essay helped White, a senior at Dieruff High, to be named one of the RBS Achievers of the Year, a national award that recognizes outstanding First Tee participants.

White received a $3,000 scholarship and attended the annual Achievers of the Year banquet in San Francisco. Nicklaus, a First Tee trustee, presented White with the award. Afterward, White and his grandfather also attended the U.S. Open, where they watched Tiger Woods, and toured San Francisco.

This year, White will return to California to attend the First Tee Life Skills and Leadership Academy. The week-long program in San Diego brings together selected participants from across the country for advanced golf and leadership programs.

White, who also participates in an ROTC program, intends to take the SATs and the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery with hopes of entering the Air Force after graduation.

"Over the last five years, I have seen a complete turnaround in Tayvon," said his grandfather Lyndell Hardney, who has custody of White. …

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