Wednesday, April 16 2014 10:54 PM EDT2014-04-17 02:54:16 GMT
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Louisville, KY (WDRB) - A local teenager from Rwanda has overcome so many obstacles after his father was killed in the genocide. Now, the teen will graduate from high school with honors.
On the court, Leonard Kwitonda excels at basketball and is part of Jeffersonville High School's team. The senior plays soccer and other sports too. But what some do not know about him is how far he's come. His life has not been easy.
"My dad was killed in 1994 in the Rwanda genocide." Kwitonda said, "I grew up with just my mom and my siblings."
At 12 years old, he became part of the National Rwanda Jr. Basketball Team which came to the US a few years later for training. When his uncle was killed, his family fled to Uganda and told Leonard to stay in the US because of safety issues.
At 15 years old, not knowing the English language he boarded a bus by himself for two days headed for Jeffersonville to live with a family friend. While that didn't work out, he ended up in four different foster homes. For the past year, he's been living with Audrey Baines and her other five foster children.
Kwitonda says, "I think I've come a long way. I don't like to think of myself as a person who has a lot of issues. There is a lot of people who have more than myself, than I have."
His positive attitude is infectious to everyone he meets. Jeffersonville Coach Matt Pait says Leonard's story is inspirational, a teen who has overcome so many obstacles and adversity and is still successful.
Pait says, "He brings a lot of energy, he's always smiling. Immediately when he's in the game, it's constant energy and effort. He's the kid who gives 100 percent at everything he does."
Baines says, "Leonard, if you meet him once or you meet him a million times, he's always going to have a smile on his face, something positive to say. He's as much a part of Jeff. as anybody who has been here forever and he's so much a part of my family, I can't imagine not having him in my life."
Leonard is planning to go to college and study international business.