Antioch High grad Shamawn Wright shines through adversity

Shamawn WrightBy Luke Johnson

When Shamawn Wright graduated from Antioch High School in 2011, he became the first alum to play collegiate Division 1 football in eight years. Now after his redshirt sophomore season at UC Davis, he has earned All-Conference honors at cornerback. 

But the road to Wright’s success was not so smooth. By the time he was 15 years old, and the only sophomore on Antioch High’s varsity football team, he had been homeless for over half his life. Wright had been bouncing around homeless shelters since he was seven years old, after his biological father ran out on his family.

Growing up in Oakland, Wright was a witness to some horrible sights. When he was 10 years old, he saw his cousin shot to death in front of his own eyes.

Wright moved to the East Bay to another shelter about a year later, and shortly after, his mother was sent to jail for child abuse. Wright and his two brothers were under child protective services, and did not see their mother for two years.

Toward the end of his sophomore year in high school, Wright and his mother were not getting along, and she kicked him out of the group home where they were staying. He then called Antioch High’s defensive back coach Wilson Pica to ask for some help. Pica told Wright he could stay at his house for a coupe of days. But gradually, days turned into weeks, and weeks turned months, and Wright has been living there ever since.

When I first walked in there, it felt like home. I was happy I had my own room, bed [and] food every night,” Wright said. “I wasn’t homeless anymore. I just didn’t want to leave.”

This past season at UC Davis, Wright helped the Aggies become the best defense in the Big Sky Conference, only allowing 200 passing yards per game. He was also 24th in the nation in kickoff returns.

Wright is determined to reach the NFL one day, and hopes to become the first Antioch High alum to do so since 1999.

This article first appeared in the February, 2014 issue of the Antioch Herald.

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