By looking at the smile on Akeli Nelson's face, you'd never know the pain he's endured.
"From like four to 9, my mom was on drugs. I had no father. He passed away when I was 2-months-old," says Nelson.
He says life has always been an uphill battle for him. At the age of 14, his family left Richmond for Kentucky. Two years later he wanted to move back, but it wasn't going to be easy."That's when I had to be a man at 16-years-old and call some resources call some homeless shelters to see if I could stay there," says Nelson.
Then the struggle began with peer pressure losing friends to jail and others dying. "I'm tired of this I want to give it up. I'm going to go out here and sell these drugs do this do that. But then it was like that's not me," says Nelson.
In November, KTVU highlighted Nelson and some of his teammates from Richmond's John F. Kennedy High School who have overcome tremendous odds.
Fast forward to now, the 19-year-old high school graduate took his talents and love for football and landed a full-ride college scholarship.
"I wanted to laminate it, I didn't know what to do. I called my mom and I cried, man I cried so hard. She was just so proud," says Nelson. He recalls the day his future coach broke the news.
"I want you to play for my team on a full scholarship. I couldn't soak it in at that moment. I just wanted to cry and say thank you so much. He said don't say thank you to me, its thank you to you, you earned it. God works in mysterious ways," says Nelson.
Nelson's bags are packed and he's ready to be the first in his family to go to college. He'll use the game of football as a stepping stone. A way to fulfill his commitment to make it big and come back to serve the community he loves.
The next step for Nelson is off to Nebraska on Tuesday where he starts his next chapter in life, making his family proud. Studying child development and playing football for the Broncos of Hastings College.