Still 'Undefeated'?-Part two - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Still 'Undefeated'?-Part two

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    Friday, October 4 2013 3:43 PM EDT2013-10-04 19:43:45 GMT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) - -

The Oscar-winning documentary, "Undefeated," chronicled the trials and victories of the  2009 Manassas High School football team. One of the most dramatic scenes involved Chavis Daniels, a young gangbanger who asked to join the team after a stint in juvenile lock-up.

In "Undefeated," Daniels was an angry young man growing up on what we call, "the mean streets" of Memphis.  "Growing up, I was used to being let down. People tell you they gonna do something and most times never came through..."

For awhile he lived in a small apartment with his grandmother. You should know that poverty defines the Manassas neighborhood. It lies in the shadow of the abandoned Firestone plant in North Memphis; a place where hope and money are hard to find.

But trouble is around every corner. "I was with a group of gang members riding and smoking weed...got guns and police pulled us over… the funny thing was I had just started…first high school football game," recalls Chavis.

Chavis was locked up for fifteen months. For most teens, this would be the beginning of a vicious cycle that ends in incarceration or death. But, Chavis had football to return to and a coach who cared enough to fight for him.

Chavis said, "Without football there's no doubt I'd be back on the streets with same group of guys. I wanted Coach Courtney to be tough on me cuz when people stop being tough on you, that's when they don't care."

That year was tough! An angry Chavis lashed out at his teammates and was suspended early on but the coach didn't give up and neither did Chavis.

"Even when off the field my teammates ...I talked to Coach Courtney every day that I was on suspension," said Chavis.

That was a turning point. Chavis made up his mind to never go back.

Coach Bill Courtney says, "Football didn't save his life. Coach Courtney didn't save his life. Football taught him discipline. Coach Courtney showed him some love. And, Chavis...saved his own life."

So where is Chavis Daniels now?  

He has come a long way since "Undefeated:" Traveling with Coach Courtney to talk about the documentary, getting a key to the city from Memphis Mayor AC Wharton and college. Yes, Chavis is enrolled in college.

Courtney says, "He broke a cycle that few break and THAT's the story of Chavis."  

Chavis is majoring in music with a minor in education at Lane College in Jackson.

He played football his freshman year but now he is focusing on his studies and his two children. Chavis says he wants to compose music and, perhaps, teach or even coach after graduation. "I wanna raise my kids to know...gotta think outside your circumstances no matter what happens-bad or good-you gotta deal with it."

That is the true message of "Undefeated."  

Chavis says, "I went from a physically strong boy into an unbelievably strong young man, and I'm not being cocky when I deserve to say I came a long way because I put the effort in. I wanted to do better and I think I'm doing better..."

We think so, too.

What about Coach Bill; the man who took the time to minister and coach a team of teens? Thursday night on FOX13 News at 9 we talk with Bill Courtney about the other guys on the team and life after "Undefeated".

MORE: Still 'Undefeated'?-Part one


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