Dominique Hawkins is already a fan favorite for many reasons–his Kentucky roots, his relentless energy and work ethic, that megawatt smile–but one of the things I love most about him is how much he appreciates the uniform he wears. Dominique’ journey to UK is special and has been documented many times, but when you realize just how far he and his family have come, it’s downright heartwarming.
Special thanks to KSR reader Susan, who sent me an article from the Summer 2013 edition of “Hometown News,” a newsletter for Home of the Innocents, a private, non-profit organization in Louisville that helps children and teens who have been abused, abandoned, or neglected. Dominique’s mother, Denise, went to the Home of the Innocents when she was pregnant at age 15 with Dominique after being raised by an abusive stepfather. Denise took part in a Pregnant and Parenting Teen program there while she continued to go to school. Once Dominique was born, the two moved back to her mother’s home in Richmond, where Denise went to Job Corps to get her GED and complete a Certified Nursing Assistant program. Her mother stayed home to take care of Dominique while she worked at a local nursing home.
Hometown News’ Meredith Pack writes this about the bond between Denise and Dominique, and what getting a scholarship from UK meant to the family:
Denise and Dominique have shared many joys in their life together, including welcoming four other children into the family. Their latest celebration was Dominique committing to attend the University of Kentucky and play on the basketball team beginning in the fall of 2013. “When he was five, he said wanted to play basketball. Every year we would ask what he wanted to do when he grew up and he would always say he wanted to be an NBA star. I made sure he stayed involved and he had a goal every time he moved up to a new team. In middle school, his AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) coach helped him toward becoming Mr. Basketball. Now he’s reached his next dream of being on the UK team. I’ve always been there for him and backed him up.”
Willie Cauley-Stein admitted to reporters today that he had no idea who Dominique was coming in, but he’s proved that he’s invaluable to the team:
“I didn’t know who he was coming in. I honestly couldn’t tell you what he looked like, what his last name was coming in. But he can hoop. I love him to death too. He’s a great guy and he can hoop. If he can keep on hooping like that, we’re going to be all right.”
Dominique said that he still receives texts from friends and family back in Richmond about his new life as a Wildcat, which keeps him humble:
“It calmed down a little bit but still people are talking to me and texting me saying it’s crazy for me, I’m getting all this playing time and stuff like that. I’m just blessed to be able to be on the team and get the playing time that I’m getting.”
How can you not root for this kid?