CHICAGO -- Darvell Harris and Mike Thomas grew up in the same Chicago neighborhood together playing football. This year, they accomplished the first step of their lifelong dream. They were drafted in the NFL.
Darvell is the newest member of the Seattle Seahawks secondary. Mike was drafted by the L.A Rams.
Darvell says, “I told my mom when I was about in 8th grade, I’m going to go to the NFL and I’m going to take care of her and my brothers.”
His mother Natushca Dorsey admits she never saw it coming. “I just thought he was an average kid saying, ‘I’m going to take care of you.’ I used to be like ok, that’s fine. But now, it’s about to happen.”
Darvell and Mike played against each other at Dunbar and DuSable high schools, then continued on to be college roommates.
Darvell says, “It’s more than a friendship. It’s like he’s my brother. So we take care of each other.”
A brotherly bond formed over football and circumstance. Both of their moms struggled from the same hardships as single parents trying to support their families.
But now Mike and Darvell plan to shoulder that load.
Mike's mother Lisa Wilson says she is still shocked and it’s a difficult concept for a mother to grasp. “When you see your son on the field playing , you think ‘Boy, you go.’ But to think, the prospect of a NFL player? “
“We’ve talked about this since we were young,” Darvell says. "Moving on and being different from everyone else and doing stuff different from everybody else. We talked about that a lot and a different situation for our moms.”
“I’ve experienced everything,” he says. “I’ve experienced gun violence - from fighting, drive-bys and dead bodies. I’m just keeping my positive head and moving forward. I really want to get my family out of Chicago. I just want to get them out of Chicago and get them a better lifestyle.”
Mike agrees. “(There’s) a lot of killing, a lot of shootings, a lot of people’s lives getting taken away, kids getting their lives taken away.”
According to the Chicago Police Department, murders in the city have increased 75% in January, 126% in February and 29% in March. Natushca says she feels like she’s in danger.
“I would like to feel safe and go out of my house and not worry about anything happening. I know there is trouble everywhere, but in the area that we are, it will be a whole lot of trouble if we stay here.”
Moving their families to what they feel would be a safer place doesn’t mean Darvell and Mike will abandon their roots.
These NFL rookies plan to use their story as an inspiration to kids in their same neighborhoods. Mike talks about setting up a youth football camp and Darvell says he already has kids reaching out to him.
“I feel like I’m a role model to a lot of kids right now looking up to me. I have a kid from my high school reaching out to me. I just tell them, keep going and don’t let anything stop you. Keep going, do you," he said.