For many people, having the money to attend college is the biggest hurdle stopping them from continuing their education. However, for Ashanti Curry, this wasn’t the case. It was something much simpler, but also seemed impossible to achieve.
The 17-year-old girl knew where she wanted to go to college at the United States Naval Academy in 2013, but with only weeks left before the deadline to sign up, it looked as though her dreams were going to be dashed—all because of a signature, required from an ex-NFL player she didn’t know.
“They noticed that she was 17 years old, and they said that we needed a second signature,” Ashanti’s mother, Tammie Dean told Action News Jax.
Dean then questioned who was needed to give that signature. She was then given the answer.
It was Ashanti’s biological father.
“Right then I almost fell out [of] my chair,” Ashanti’s mother described.
Despite her mother having sole custody, Ashanti nevertheless needed her father’s signature if she wanted to realize her dream. While obtaining a signature from a parent seemed like an easy task, Ashanti knew it wasn’t going to be easy.
“This man has never been around, ever done made one decision in my life, but the most important decision that needs to be made, he has that in his hands,” Ashanti said. “I was very upset.”
Ashanti’s biological father is Eric Curry, a former NFL player, and a man who Ashanti had only seen twice.
Knowing that the only way she could go to the college of her dreams was to get her biological father to sign the acceptance letter, she called him. The teen, who was living in North Carolina with her mother, received some semi-promising news.
“He was like ‘well, I can’t get it done tomorrow, which is Monday, because I have some things to do, but I can get it done sometime this week,'” Ashanti recalled him saying on the phone.
A week later, there was still no signature.
Looking for other ways to obtain the signature, Ashanti’s mother contacted Action News Jax in Florida, a local news outlet, and asked for help.
An investigative reporter, Paige Kelton, showed interested in their story. Kelton made several phone calls, including one answered by Bill Nelson, a senator from Florida, who said: “we will get this straightened out.”
However, three days later, there was still no signature.
Kelton then found out that there was an arrest warrant due to unpaid child support. The 17-year-old’s biological father owed her mother more than $50,000.
Despite this, the teen made another plea to her father.
“I’m going to a very prestigious college, and I need your signature,” Ashanti said to Action News Jax what she told her father. “And you should understand it’s way bigger than your arrest warrant, it’s way bigger than the child support. It’s way bigger than all of that. This is my education and my future, and I need you to be mature about it.”
Kelton continued to work on the case on her end as well. With mere three weeks left until the deadline, Kelton finally managed to bring about a stay of the father’s arrest warrant.
Three hours later, at last, the ex-NFL player met with a recruiter, and signed the letter allowing Ashanti to attend the United States Naval Academy.
Still trying to get the first story we did on Ashanti Curry online. Yes, it was that long so. But here was today’s update. So proud of this young women. #Jax can be proud of 2nd Lt. Curry. https://t.co/KThU09GLok @ActionNewsJax pic.twitter.com/VnNVpSLaRX
— Paige Kelton (@PaigeANjax) June 5, 2018
Fast-forward to May 2018 and Ashanti had just graduated from the school that she almost wasn’t able to attend. Ashanti first saluted her stepfather, who was a marine himself, reported Action News Jax.
Moved me to tears. 5 yrs ago Ashanti Curry faced losing her U.S. Naval Academy acceptance because she couldn’t get her dads signature. Our story helped make that happen, her mom just sent me these graduation pics “We did it, you did it.” So proud of you Ashanti! @ActionNewsJax pic.twitter.com/U9fYn49m8B
— Paige Kelton (@PaigeANjax) June 4, 2018
Following the commencement ceremony, Ashanti was approached by a little girl and her mother in a restaurant.
“Well my daughter just graduated from pre-school today as well and we wanted her to come over and meet you!” the girl’s mother told Ashanti. The mother said she hopes her daughter will have Ashanti’s strength when she grows up.
Ashanti then shared the story on Facebook. She gifted the girl who approached her a balloon and a hug.
**PLEASE SHARE THIS SO I CAN FIND THIS LITTLE GIRL!**So it’s been 4 days since graduation and I can say the infamous…
After a short break, Ashanti began to train in Quantico, preparing herself to serve with the Marine Corps, according to the CBS Baltimore.
Grateful for Kelton’s help five years earlier, Dean contacted her via Facebook, expressing her gratitude and sharing the good news. In a lengthy Facebook post, Ashanti gave an account of her story and expressed her gratitude as well. In the last part of the post, the now adult Ashanti encouraged people to stay true to their dreams.
“Life never comes easy, especially the things that are so so worth having,” Ashanti wrote on Facebook. “Never quit my friends. It all works out in the end…ALWAYS!!!”
For those of you that have followed my story these past 5 years, you would know that being accepted into the academy…