WASHINGTON (WUSA 9) -- Dunbar running back Malont'a Patterson is one of 14 high schoolers across the country being recognized for going above and beyond, doing the right thing and persevering through insurmountable odds.
He's the DC-area recipient of The Inspiration presented by Army National Guard and USA Today. Malont'a accepted his award at a homecoming pep-rally at Paul Laurence Dunbar Senior High on Friday afternoon.
Malont'a's dream is to play football in the NFL, but he keeps himself firmly grounded in the present by focusing on his grades and getting into college.
"When they sat down and explained to me that grades was the first priority to get into college, I recognized I needed to get on top of my grades," said Malont'a.
And he did. The senior, who had a 2.5 GPA his freshman year, now carries between a 3.5 and 4.0.
"I'm very proud of Malont'a," said his mom Lynette Patterson. "I'm excited for him because he works very hard
in the classroom and out on the field."
Dunbar head coach Jerron Joe said Malont'a leads by example.
"He's an all-American kid. He does everything everybody asks him to do ... He's never missed one practice since I've been here, he's been a vocal leader, he works extremely hard," said Joe.
Leadership is just one quality The Inspiration award addresses, overcoming insurmountable odds is another.
Malont'a's father is in prison, but he is still an important part of his son's life.
"When he was here he did everything for Malont'a, everything," said Lynette Patterson. "He was always at the football field, at games. He did everything."
Malont'a and Lynette are extremely close, and not having a dad in the home doesn't hold Malont'a back.
"Nothing is given to you, you have to earn everything you get and that's what I try to teach him," she said.
Malont'a hopes to study architecture in college and is building a life for himself. He credits his mom and family support system with his success in high school.