MOORE — Darius Joseph kept stealing glances at the boy in the photo.
Snapped by an Oklahoman photographer nearly eight years ago, the picture captured a 7-year-old who had been invited to a United Way breakfast after being displaced by Hurricane Katrina. He was sitting by his smiling mother. He was cutting into a pancake.
He is a young Darius Joseph.
“I tell you,” he said, “I've been on a trip.”
Has he ever.
Darius is now a junior at Southmoore High School, and Thursday night, he will be on the football field when the Sabercats open their season against Carl Albert. It's an opener like no other, coming less than four months after a tornado came with a few hundred yards of the school and tore a path through Moore that destroyed the homes of 22 players.
Among those players was Darius.
Yes, his home was hit by Hurricane Katrina and the Moore tornado.
Darius was living on the outskirts of New Orleans in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina took dead aim for the city. He and his mom, Dawn, were renting an apartment in Harvey, La., on the west bank of the Mississippi River.
Along with his grandparents, they decided to evacuate and drove to Houston.
“We were more fortunate than people who stayed there,” Darius said. “We had options.”
They stayed in Houston for about a week as floodwaters filled much of New Orleans.
When they returned to their apartment, they found that it hadn't been flooded like much of the city. But once inside, they discovered that the hurricane's winds had ripped off part of the roof. Darius's room was fine, and everything in it was right where it had been when they left. But just across the hall, Dawn's room was wrecked.
Even with the damage, they planned to stay in Louisiana. That was where their family was. That was home.
Then Dawn found out that her job was being relocated. She had worked for The New Orleans CityBusiness, a business newspaper in town, and with the storm, the parent company was relocating employees to other papers that it owned.
Dawn could work in Oklahoma City at the Journal Record or in Long Island, N.Y.
She chose to stay as close to New Orleans as possible. Dawn and Darius first rented an apartment in Oklahoma City for a year, then went looking for a rent house and found one in Moore.
Having been in Moore since fourth grade, Darius considers it home.
But earlier this year, he changed addresses. Fights between his mom and stepdad had become more frequent and more intense, and in February, Darius finally had enough.
He ran away.
He didn't go far, though. He moved in with his friend and football teammate Brandon Dick and his family. Their blue house at the end of the cul-de-sac on South Harvey Avenue became a refuge.
Darius didn't have a bedroom of his own — he slept on the floor in Brandon's room — but none of that mattered.