When Shawn Dent walks through Moore High School, memories fill the hallways. But not all of his memories are happy ones.
"They could've threw me out the door. They could've kicked me out," Dent said. "I was hanging out with the wrong crowd."
Just two years ago, graduation seemed like a long shot. School wasn't always a priority until the day he showed up for class, and officers were waiting on him. In that moment, everything changed.
"It's crazy, because the same school I got locked up in (during) my sophomore year is the same school that's trying to get me into college," he said.
For the next six weeks, Dent was jailed at the Metro Youth Detention Center, leaving his mom, Mary Bailey, heartbroken.
"I thank God first, to have given me the strength to be that mother in (Shawn's) life, to never turn my back on him," Bailey said.
When some parents would give up, Bailey stepped up.
"I told him everybody's got to learn some way for their mistakes," she said. "And I would rather be able to talk to you than me going to a grave site."
Going to jail might have been his biggest blessing. Behind bars, Dent was able to turn his life around.
"His words were, 'I can prove it,'" said Bailey.
Moore head football coach Rob Reader said Dent is now working out a deal with Kentucky State University to play in the fall.
"I said, 'Man, you know where you're going now, because you know where you've been.' And Shawn doesn't wanna go back."
The youngest of three boys, Dent is the first to make it to college.
"This is just awesome," Bailey said. "I'm trying hold my tears back, but this is awesome. This is a blessing to me: to see my baby succeed and me to witness this."
As he prepares to graduate on Friday, Dent is proof that people can change for the better.
"I know I drove her through too much," Dent said of his mother. "So I know it's only right that I repay her with some kind of success.
"It's not gonna happen overnight. You're gonna have people that say, 'You can't do this.' But you've gotta stay focused. I promise, as long as you stay focused, it's gonna happen. It's gonna work."
Copyright 2018 WDRB Media. All rights reserved.