Against the Odds
Spending most of his young life growing up in a house with no running water or electricity, and often times going to bed hungry, Anthony White faced tremendous adversity while growing up in his hometown of Kansas City, KS.
Anthony’s home life was made even worse due to a step-father that was physically abusive to the youngster. When high school arrived, Anthony attended a college preparatory school during the day and would then head to a night job at McDonalds where he would work from 4:30-11 p.m. each night. He would return home to do his homework and prepare for the next day.
Looking for an escape from a dreary home life, Anthony found a bit of a reprieve in the home of Travis and Melody Green. He befriended the family’s son, Gunnar, during a high school class they shared together. Once the family learned of Anthony’s situation at home, they allowed him to stay at their house whenever he wanted.
“That was my get away place,” Anthony said. “I would go there constantly to be around people who cared. I thank them so much for accepting me into their home.”
Anthony considers the Green’s as his family and calls Gunnar his brother.
However, back home with his mother and step-father, Anthony would hand over his paychecks to help support his family. Anthony’s step-father would later force him to work at a business he had started and refused to pay him.
Anthony’s grandparents, Arthur and Marlene White, learned of the situation at Anthony’s house and heard what was going on with Anthony not getting paid for the work he was doing and stepped in and took Anthony back to their house where he stayed the entire summer prior to his senior year.
The turning point in Anthony’s life came when his mother eventually signed over parental custody rights to Arthur and Marlene, and Anthony was able to live with his grandparents during his senior year of high school.
“My grandparents stood up for me,” Anthony said. “I love them to death not only because they rescued me from that situation, but because they taught me about life.”
As a senior in high school, Anthony had a chance to experience being a high school student and was able to go out for the basketball team for the first time since his freshman year.
“I was basically allowed to live for once in my life,” Anthony said.
Anthony averaged a double-double and played a vital role in his team capturing the state title.
Despite the chaos he dealt with at home, Anthony strived to make a better life for himself and maintained a 3.8 grade point average throughout high school.
“I have had to work so hard, but it is paying off now,” Anthony said.
Anthony always knew he would go to college, he just did not know where. Recruited to play basketball at Cowley College, Anthony made a visit to the school’s main campus in Arkansas City and knew Cowley was the place for him.
Along with helping the Tiger basketball team capture the 2010-2011 conference title and finish with a two-year record of 49-18, Anthony was extremely involved on campus.
On the same week he was crowned Cowley College’s Homecoming King, Anthony was named the school’s February Male Student- Athlete of the Month. He also served as a resident assistant in the Oscar Kimmel Dormitory, and worked in Cowley’s business office.
Anthony was named to the Dean’s Honor Roll and achieved a 3.63 grade point average. He was named Who’s Who Among College Students and was recently selected as the Most Outstanding Student for Arkansas City.
“My experience at Cowley is more than I ever thought I would get out of it,” Anthony said. “The people here are great; it has been an awesome place.”
While at Cowley, Anthony was a part of the school’s Foster Parent program, which pairs individuals in the community with a studentathlete. Anthony had the good fortune of having Sue Saia as his foster mom.
“She took me under her wing and is a very special lady,” Anthony said. “She is someone I could always go to and provided me with a strong support system.”
Saia, who serves as the vice president of student affairs at Cowley College, considers herself lucky to have had Anthony as her “Foster Son.”
“In my over 20 plus years in education, I can honestly say I’ve never encountered a young man as exceptional as Anthony,” Saia said. “He’s an excellent student, a talented athlete, but most important, he is a person of outstanding character.”
Anthony has been like a big brother to Saia’s daughter, Courtney, attending her sporting events and cheering her on. He plans to remain in Arkansas City through the summer, working with students in Cowley College’s Upward Bound program.
Prior to his graduation from Cowley in May, Anthony signed a letter of intent to play basketball at Friends University in Wichita. As important as the opportunity to continue his basketball career was the chance to continue towards a degree in pre-engineering.
Instead of dwelling on the negative things he endured while growing up, Anthony focuses on the positives in his life.
“Not having anything makes me appreciate what I have now,” Anthony said.
“Through the good grace of God I have had some awesome people in my life.”
Among those special people are Travis and Melody Green, who plan to formally adopt Anthony later this summer.
“I thank them so much,” Anthony said. “Without them and my grandparents, I don’t think I would be here right now.”
Lucky for all of us Anthony is here and will continue making a difference in people’s lives.
“Many students with his background would have given up or chosen a negative path, but not my Anthony. He’s a champion,” Saia said. “When I think of all that he has accomplished in life, I am amazed by it. I feel honored and blessed to have had him be a part of our lives.”