Student makes it all the way to college after being given away at birth

Posted: 9:20 PM, Aug 23, 2017
Updated: 2017-08-24 22:47:10Z
Hamtramck High School grad makes us proud
Hamtramck High School grad makes us proud

We have an update on one of our Detroit 2020 Against All Odds students. Her name is Shana Risby who we first met during her senior year in high school.

Now two years later we have a new chapter in her life.

Wayne County Community College Cross Country Coach Jason Williams had this to say about Shana, "She played the hardest and she even worked hard off the floor. She gave 100 percent on the floor she gave 200 percent in the classroom."

Her high school reacher John Rostek says, "She has all the excuses in the world to give up, she represents perseverance."

Shana Risby's life, like her basketball game has been about beating the odds and finding a way out.

Risby says, "You may have to decide whether you want to stay down in the gutter or do you want to reach for the stars and become something better."

That something better was a tall order for a  girl literally given away at birth by her mother who was addicted to drugs and in and out of prison. Her mom gave her newborn to a couple down the street and asked them to raise her. 

Shana says, "Growing up I didn't have much, but they gave me the minimum and I took the minimum and made it something bigger."

We first met Shana at Hamtramck High trying to navigate hallways filled with students from all of the world.

No one ever knew her inner torment and, because she had no legal ties to this family, at the age of 11 the state removed her from the only home and family she knew and placed in Children's Village and teased relentlessly.

Shana says, "I just had this fire inside of me, I don't know where it comes from."

She graduated with honors from Hamtramck High, earning a basketball scholarship to Wayne County Community College.

As the top student athlete with her Associates Degree, Shana is off to Wisconsin on an academic scholarship to Marian College where she will also chase her hoop dreams.

Shana says, "I feel very proud of myself, I feel just because the certain stuff I went through and I accomplished so much over just two years."

Despite her rough start and too many challenges to name, many have helped Shana blossom. Coaches, teachers, family and friends - even one who will join her in the backcourt at Marian this fall.

And while Shana sees a clear shot at her future, She just learned her mom is back in prison in Kentucky, but bad news will not stop her full court press toward a brighter tomorrow.

Shana says, "She actually motivates me, 'I don't want you to be in here like me I want you to make something and do something with your life'."

If you believe life has four quarters, Shana has a lot of time left on the clock and when the final buzzer sounds there's no doubt her life will leave us all inspired and wanting more.