HENRICO, Va. (WWBT) - Since graduating from Highland Springs, K’Von Wallace has taken off at Clemson. He’s won two national championships, moments his mother, Roxanne Barnes, remembers vividly.
“We hugged for a long time and cried,” recalled Barnes. “We shared some words, and I was like ‘wow, you did it!’”
But those two previous titles would not make a third on Monday night any less special, as Wallace and Clemson take on LSU for the top prize in college football.
“My heart is beating when I think about it,” Barnes smiles.
Wallace, a Highland Springs grad, will play his final game in the orange and purple on Monday night in the national championship game. It’s been a quite a ride for the senior defensive back, as well as family and friends who have supported him, but to fully understand his journey, you have to go back to what Barnes describes as some rough neighborhoods in the Richmond area, where Wallace spent a good portion of his childhood.
“He could’ve sneaked outside, he could’ve climbed out the window, he could’ve went to different parties, he could’ve gotten caught up in selling drugs, using drugs, women...,” said Barnes of Wallace’s environment. “He made a choice to stay in the house, he made a choice to not go to certain places, he made a choice to get good grades.”
Barnes, who was a single mother working three jobs, relied on K’Von to make the right decisions, while also looking out for his future. She remembers how her son fell in love with football thanks to a game on PlayStation at five years old, and how he has dreamed of playing in the NFL his entire life. So much so, that he took exception to his mother even suggesting alternatives. One night, during Wallace’s sophomore year of high school, she asked him about his future path and what he might explore outside of football.
“Whatever he was eating, he placed it... he threw it on the kitchen table and he walked out of the kitchen, and my heart dropped.”
Wallace is not in the league just yet, but he has reached the highest level of college football. During that process, he’s also become an invaluable role model for those following the same path back at Highland Springs.
“He’s not a guy who’s shy to Highland Springs in any way, form, or fashion,” said Springers’ head coach Loren Johnson. “He’s a guy who loves this place. He shows it. He comes home, shares knowledge with the kids, he shares knowledge whenever he can, and he’s talking to any and every coach, any and every kid.”
Johnson and Barnes have both had front row seats to much, if not all, of Wallace’s growth. His mother has watched each of his college games during the last four years, but still never fully gets used to the stage.
“Something happens, a win or a tackle, it just takes me back to that places when he was a little boy, watching him run around the field when he was playing pee wee ball.”
From pee wee to prime time, the pride of those who have been part of his journey is overflowing.
“Everybody’s proud of him,”said Johnson. “He’s graduated with his college degree, and he’s going to do a lot of great things, whether it’s on the field or not.”
“As a mom, it never gets old,” added Barnes. “Just to see him live out his dreams and to know that I’m a part of that, it never gets old and I’m so proud.”
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