HOPEWELL, Va. -- As Hopewell High School head football coach Ricky Irby puts this year's team through practice, he's looking for precision, attention to detail, and performance. But outside of the Xs and Os on the field, the kids in his program have to have other intangibles to succeed.
"Our motto here is CLAW. That's Character, Leadership, Accountability and Work ethic," Irby said.
Ideally, each student would have each trait. If they don't, Irby has some living examples of each acronym.
"We knew when they first came up how special they were, not only as players but as kids," Irby said about three players who are also brothers. "Their work ethic, their character, their leadership, everything they have is incredible."
Treveyon Henderson is the starting running back at Ohio State.
Ronnie Walker is now at the University of Virginia after originally playing at Indiana.
Kesean Henderson still suits up at Hopewell.
All three brothers are now playing or will play at college football's highest level. It's part of a grand design the brothers have been working on for years.
"Our backyard was our safe haven from all the problems that were going on in the city. We would go in the backyard every day, doing drills and things like that. I'd be recording and critiquing," Walker said.
"We were always working hard, no matter what day it was, no matter if it was super hot, raining, super cold, it didn't matter. We were always getting the work in. Just getting each other better," Treveyon Henderson said.
"They're the ones that actually got me into working hard when I was a kid. I was always in the house trying to be a kid. They got me out of the house, going in the field, working out, going to the gym, showing me how important it is to have that in my career," Kesean Henderson said.
Always watching, either from the stands or the back window, was their mother Keesha.
"This is something I never thought would happen. I'm excited to see what leads next in the world but it's a great feeling," Keesha said. "They make me proud every day. Not just playing football and sports but just real-life situations and school."
As a single mother, Keesha worked two jobs at times to provide for her boys. But what she really gave them was a singular focus on academics that they took to heart.
"All three of her kids had 4.0 GPAs. They never made a B and Kesean is following right along," Irby said. "They were very focused, laser-focused on what their goals were and never once deviated off that track."
That determination comes straight from mom, especially when she's traveling to see them play. She routinely will watch Hopewell play on a Friday night and then hop in a car on Saturday morning with her mother to drive at least eight hours somewhere to see another son play.
"I remember one time I was driving, probably to go see Ronnie play. She ended up waking up out of her sleep and grabbing the wheel out of nowhere. She gets paranoid when other people drive," Treveyon said.
"It made me feel great. It's very heartwarming. I love my mom, she's always been there for us since we were little kids. We used to stay in one room. She always wanted the best for us," Walker said.
She's getting the best thanks for the example she set. While football is big, it takes a back seat to what's really important.
"I know without my mother, my family, and my brothers, I wouldn't be in the position I'm in. I'm glad we always stuck together. We were always close. No matter what we went through, we went through it together" Treveyon said.
All the brothers wear the number 32 in honor of their grandfather, Albert Lee Harris, who himself was a standout player at Hopewell High School decades ago.
Ronnie is studying engineering at Virginia, Treveyon is a finance major at Ohio State, and Kesean has scholarship offers from schools like Virginia, Virginia Tech, and Pittsburg.
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