Homeless Florida teen valedictorian never gave up in honor of late mom


Stories about Floridians gone wrong and teens gone wrong are omnipresent on the internet (I’m certainly guilty). Mr. Griffin Furlong has a life story that turns those themes on their head while teaching us all a lesson about determination and perseverance.

The 18-year-old Senior at First Coast High in Jacksonville, Florida has never had it easy and he’s never used that fact as an excuse to quit on himself. He was just 6-years-old when he lost his mother to leukemia. When he was 8, he, along with his dad and brother were finally able to move out of a Kentucky homeless shelter after 2 years.

When Griffin was in the 6th grade his family managed to make a move to Jacksonville. Even with the change of scenery it wasn’t out of the ordinary for him to go to bed hungry. Through all of this turmoil the young man never missed class or baseball practice. Now he finds himself as the valedictorian of his class while sporting an impressive 4.65 GPA.

Furlong told WPTV, “At some points I wanted to quit. It was horrible. A kid should not have to go through that.”

Just a month ago his family once again lost their home and Griffin found himself living with his girlfriend’s mother and then his aunt and uncle.

The impressive young man summed up his focus this way:

“I try to accomplish everything I need to do. I know that I have everything to lose. So I just push myself. School is all I have. Family is all I have. I am doing it all for me and what I have been through. I am doing it for my mom.”


One of Furlong’s teachers wrote him a letter of recommendation to Florida State University, where he hopes to study civil engineering. His teacher wrote in part that he was “the hardest working, most motivated student I have ever had.”

As you would imagine, Griffin doesn’t have the money on hand needed to pursue his dreams. He has a few financial based grants but they don’t come close to covering the financial demand of a college education. He’s done the legwork seeking scholarships but has yet to hear back. He admitted the process has “been pretty frustrating.”

When asked what his secret to success was, he said it can all be narrowed down to a simple 3 word motto that he’s written on the inside of any baseball cap he’s ever called his own, “Never give up.”

Something tells me he’s going to get what he needs to go to college… FSU will be damn lucky to have him.

This one, from a true Florida great, goes out to Griffin and kids like him fighting the good fight:

Photos: Facebook

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