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Homeless L.A. student accepted to West Point

April 8, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
A homeless high school senior from South L.A. is on his way to West Point thanks to some incredible help from complete strangers. Tyki Nelworth explained to Eyewitness News how he is inspiring such an overwhelming support. George Washington Preparatory High School senior Tyki Nelworth is savoring the generosity of strangers. The 18-year-old has been accepted to the United States Military Academy at West Point, but up until Thursday, he didn't know how he would get there or how he would pay the deposit.

"Initially, I had to make a $2,000 deposit to West Point to enter and I was kind of uncertain on how I was going to get that together," said Tyki. "That's a lot of money."

When the school's alumni association heard the stand-out student needed help, former students paid the deposit, his plane ticket, his prom tickets and tuxedo rental.

"We have to let him know that his efforts have not gone unnoticed. He could've chosen to be a drug dealer, he could've chosen to be in a gang but he chose to succeed," said Laquitta Cole, an alumni associate.

Tyki has endured more challenges than most 18-year-olds. His father died when he was in the 7th grade. He and his mother were evicted from their home two years ago and his mom is currently behind bars. Tyki now lives with a cousin and his cousin's girlfriend.

"I don't use those as excuses to not do well. I tend to use those as reasons to do better and get my life together," said Tyki.

Despite one obstacle after another, Tyki has a 4.2 GPA. He's taken advanced-placement courses, is the captain of the football team, is on the baseball team and is student body president.

Craig Sipes is Tyki's AP physics teacher. "He's got a leadership quality and people gravitate towards him. He's charismatic and people are inspired by him," said Sipes.

Tyki plans to play football at West Point and sharpen his leadership skills. Over the years, he says many people have steered him in the right direction and he hopes to be a role model to other teens in the future.

"If you put your mind to it, I know it sounds cliché, but you can do it. If there's a will, there's a way," said Tyki.