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Irving ISD News/Events

From Homelessness to Hope: Nimitz Senior Secures Football Scholarship

Zaylin Washington (photo courtesy of Irving ISD)

Nimitz High School senior Zaylin Washington is set to attend Feather River College in California on a football scholarship. His journey to this achievement has been marked by significant challenges, including a tumultuous childhood and periods of instability.

Washington’s early years were filled with upheaval, moving between various family members, foster care, and a brief period of homelessness. He recalls a difficult time in his youth when he didn't understand the concept of love, having asked his cousin about its meaning after being told "Good night, I love you" each night.

After a series of custody battles, Washington eventually lived with his aunt and attended Schulze Elementary School. Despite finding some stability, he struggled with behavior issues, seeking attention and understanding. “But I didn’t know what love was, so I wasn’t really the best kid in school and messed up a lot… just looking for attention from anyone to notice I was here,” Washington shares. Teachers, noticing signs of trouble at home, alerted Child Protective Services, leading to Washington's placement in foster care. He was later removed by his father, but the household remained troubled.

In the 7th grade, Washington joined the football team at Bowie Middle School, where he began to find a sense of respect and camaraderie. “Football was a way I could express my emotions and was a good outlet… everything would go quiet when I put that helmet on,” Washington says. “It was good to know there were people who had my back.”

Upon entering Nimitz High School, Washington faced worsening home challenges but continued to excel in football and academics. A pivotal moment came during his sophomore year when he returned home to find his belongings on the lawn and was told he could no longer stay there. For two weeks, he lived out of his backpack, concealing his situation from those around him.

Sensing something was wrong, his youth group pastor, Jack, asked Washington about his living situation. When Washington admitted he was homeless, Pastor Jack offered him a home. “Well, you have one now,” Pastor Jack replied. This support marked a turning point in Washington's life.

Since then, Washington has thrived both on and off the field, becoming a leader and mentor. His performance in football attracted the attention of Feather River College, where he plans to major in kinesiology. Washington dreams of one day opening a sports center to help kids from all backgrounds.

Zaylin Washington’s story is a testament to resilience and the support of a caring community. His future at Feather River College promises to be the next chapter in an inspiring journey.

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