LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- He grew up homeless but eventually went to Harvard. Now, a man who beat the odds is locked up and facing felony drug charges.

"He was a kid that needed direction and has great potential,” said former Louisville Councilwoman Denise Bentley.

She has known Corey Waller for more than 13 years. He often visited their home near 34th and Kirby in the Parkland neighborhood.

"Corey was a kid that looked for love, looked for direction, looked for support, and a lot of the community stood behind him," said Bentley.

Bentley said Waller's mother had an addiction issue and his father was out of the picture.

"Corey raised himself," she said.

He went to duPont Manual High School, played football there and landed on the honor roll all four years -- eventually graduating in 2002.

"We were so proud of him and his accomplishments at Manual High School,” said Bentley. “We were proud of him going to Harvard and we're still proud of him today."

Last week a grand jury indicted Waller. Earlier this month, police say they found between 200 and 400 pounds of marijuana inside a storage locker Waller was renting on Chamberlain Lane. When officers arrested him, they say they found marijuana, money and a gun inside the car.

“It was like someone socked me in the stomach," said Bentley who later visited Waller in jail. “And as I said to Corey yesterday, you can always make lemonade out of lemons and so I haven't given up on him."

"It's unfortunate that he's been charged with these offenses," said Waller's attorney Alex Dathorne.

"Generally when people have a bad day, so to speak, their friends turn away and community supporters distance themselves," said Dathorne. “The opposite has been true in this case and I think that sheds some light on what type of person he is."

The Lincoln Foundation works with disadvantaged youth and supported Waller during his time at Harvard. It sent this statement to WDRB News:

Lincoln Foundation is saddened by the news of this tragic situation.

Corey Waller was an outstanding Scholar and Lincoln Foundation supported him during his education at Harvard University.

Lincoln Foundation has served thousands of youth through our year-round educational enrichment programs. It is important to note that Mr. Waller's actions are not representative of the vast majority of Whitney M. YOUNG Scholars who are and continue to be productive citizens and leaders in their communities.

When asked what she would say if Waller did what he's accused of, Bentley replied, "I don't want to speculate that he's guilty but what I would say to him is what I'd say to my son and any other young African American man in the streets: 'What were you thinking?'"

If found guilty, Waller could spend five to 10 years in prison. He is due back in court in July.


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