The tragedies Jerome Bentley has experienced would cause most teenagers to give up, become destructive or curse the world for their misfortune.

But somehow, instead of becoming bitter or disillusioned, Bentley has turned tragedy into success.

The Seventy-First High School senior signed a national letter of intent Thursday to play college football at NCAA Division II Fayetteville State. Bentley signed the letter surrounded by his football teammates, coaches and administrators during a ceremony at the school’s media center.

“Jerome Bentley’s story is still being told. Now, it’s going to be told on Saturdays off Murchison Road,” an emotional Falcons football coach Duran McLaurin told the gathering.

The event had all the trappings of a normal signing celebration — cake, food, drinks — but one thing was missing.


Bentley, 18, lost his biological parents to horrific diseases. His mother passed after a battle with throat cancer in December 2006 when Bentley was only seven years old. With his father out of the picture, he was sent to Indiana to live with his sisters, but that quickly turned into a bad situation with Bentley headed for foster care.

Fortunately, his father, Jerome, arrived to save the day and moved with his fourth-grader son to Fayetteville.

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