COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Motivational speaker, Siran Stacy, a former football player for Alabama and the Philadelphia Eagles gave some encouraging words to students at Carver High School on Monday during an assembly.
Stacy knows all too well about overcoming tragedy after losing his wife and four children at the hands of a DUI driver in Dothan, Alabama in 2007.
Stacy travels the nation speaking to groups about how God redeemed him following the horrific incident. He was asked to speak to Carver students in light of the sudden and tragic death of Coach David Pollard, killed in a recent car accident.
As Stacey was leaving the school, he saw a young man we were about to interview concerning his upcoming graduation from Catapult Academy.
The student, Isaiah Gilliard, was at Carver for graduation rehearsal. Gilliard is among the 66 students set to graduate Wednesday night with a high school diploma from Catapult Academy.
The school is designed to help dropouts complete their high school education instead of getting a GED.
"Change this world, leave a legacy...you can do it," said Stacy, while shaking hands with Gilliard.
During our interview with Gilliard, the first thing we asked him was what he thought about the chance encounter with Stacy.
Gilliard responded, "It was very informative, basically don't let your past affect your future."
Isaiah got behind in school and by the age of 18, he found himself in a deficit. He needed 23 credits to graduate. In August, he enrolled in Catapult Academy.
My mom always told me to do my work, but I never listened. I was always bad and doing what I wanted to do, so when I failed that taught me that I should have listened to her.
With a huge work load facing him, Gilliard defied the odds. "So I did two grades in six months," added Gilliard.
Gilliard said he definitely made the right move although he admits, at first, he was a little reluctant to go Catapult Academy.
Tekeira Colevin didn't' hesitate at the opportunity to attend Catapult located in the Edgewood Educational Center on Forrest Road. She knew going there would prevent her from being a senior again next year at Carver.
"I will be my mom's first child to graduate and I'm the oldest and I want my younger siblings to look up to me, added Colevin.
Colevin earned 11 credits to graduate and now she has her sights set on joining the military.
As for Gilliard, he's college bound. He says he plans to enroll at Columbus Technical College and major in business.
Catapult Academy's graduation is on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Carver High School. To watch the graduation live click here.