OSU football: More to tell about Jeremiah Tshimanga

Even though the story in Sunday's edition of The Oklahoma was more than 2,000 words, staff writer Gina Mizell still couldn't fit every detail into the powerful story of a young man who has persevered through homelessness and abuse.
by Gina Mizell Published: February 12, 2012
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*I wish I could have directly worked Michael Knobloch into the story more. He gave me some great info — him looking at Jeremiah as competition at first and how Jeremiah fit right in at family functions, for example — but I didn't get a direct quote from him in the story.

He's a quiet guy, but when I asked him why he first reached out to help his teammate, he gave a pretty selfless and thoughtful answer.

“I think everybody should be treated the same,” he said. “I'll give anything I have to somebody that doesn't have anything. I'll do whatever I can for them to have equal to what I have, or even more.”

Two years ago, the Richland starting linebackers were Jeremiah, Michael and current Cowboy Nico Ornelas. Nico is a big reason why Jeremiah was familiar with and ultimately signed with OSU. Maybe Michael will join them after he finishes at Tyler Junior College.

*While Jeremiah was living with Michael and his mom and stepdad, Stacy and Richard Wade, they invited Jeremiah's mother over to their house a few times and also took Jeremiah to see her at a homeless shelter in Fort Worth. Richard provided a powerful image of what that environment was like.

“You hear gunshots just a block down the street,” Richard said. “It's a pretty scary place. I can't imagine kids living there. You wouldn't want to go out at night.”

*When asked about the financial sacrifices made to bring Jeremiah into their home, Stacy quickly mentioned the amount of food they had to buy. That makes sense for a 6-foot-3, 230-pound teenager, but she also noted that Jeremiah's brain has likely been programmed to eat as much as possible whenever food is available.

“He's serious about eating, because he's been without before,” she said. “So he's scared he's not going to eat again.”

*I asked Jeremiah about the hardest part about his past. He didn't mention anything he personally had to go through. He talked about not being able to watch his sisters grow up, his brother not being able to play football and his mother not being as involved in his life.

“The hardest moment was probably just thinking about not having certain people in my life that I wish could enjoy what I'm enjoying,” he said.

I appreciate the kind feedback that the story has already received. If you're on Twitter, be sure to thank Jeremiah (@OSU_Linebacker), as well. I wouldn't have been able to share with you unless he shared with me.

by Gina Mizell
OSU Sports Reporter
Gina Mizell joined The Oklahoman in August of 2011 as the Oklahoma State beat writer, where she covered the Cowboys' historic run to the Big 12 championship and Fiesta Bowl in her first season on the job. Before arriving in Stillwater, Gina was...
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