TENAHA- Facing obstacles and adversity is a part of life, but how we deal with them is what dictates our future. Due to his unwavering faith, Trai Gardner was able to overcame life's hardest challenges to become the man he is today.
Growing up in Tenaha, Trai did not have a conventional childhood. Due to instability with his parents, he was forced to live with his grandmother at the age of three. "It was difficult, but having my granny makes everything better," Gardner stated, "I knew three things for sure. I knew where I was sleeping, I knew what I was going to eat, and I knew I would have clothes on my back."
When times got rough with his grandmother, he had to live with his football coach for a period of time. "He was a joy, he did his chores, and we treated him like one of the other boys," stated Tenaha head football coach Craig Horn.
Trai currently lives with seven other kids (cousins and brothers) at his grandmothers house, and he takes great pride in being a positive influence to them. Growing up without a father in the picture, Trai understands the importance of being a role model to them.
"I know they look up to me. I got to be the best person for them, because they don't really have an older male role model besides me," Gardner stated.
An unstable childhood wasn't the only thing Trai had to overcome. Being from a town of just over 1,100 people, Trai was often overlooked. He was one of the top receivers in East Texas, but due to his small school size, many college football recruiters were discouraged. Trai kept his faith because he knew something would turn up.
"I don't know that I've ever heard Trai make an excuse about anything. He just goes to work. He exhibits that high character," stated coach Horn.
After a three touchdown performance in the state title game, colleges finally started taking notice. On national signing day, Trai made the decision to attend Trinity Valley Community College.
When he completes junior college, he plans to obtain a degree from a four year university.
"God has a plan," Gardner stated. "No matter what anybody else says, God has a plan. You can't argue with it. It's facts. It's proven. God has a plan."