KNOXVILLE - Meet Xavier Grace.
He's from Memphis. He's going to the University of Tennessee in the fall.
But it's not as simple as it may seem. His story is a long one. A tough one.
"Xavier came to me when he was seven years old," said the student's adoptive mother, Kim Grace. "He came from a situation, a home life that no one needed to experience."
Raised by his cousin at an early age, Kim took Xavier in after his cousin's health began to fail. Now, he's going to his dream school, an opportunity for a better life, all of this celebrated at UT's first Declaration Day on Monday.
The day is similar to a national signing day for student-athletes. The university wanted to celebrate the normal student for their accomplishments. Xavier however, is anything but normal.
"They're supposed to present my back story to everyone who's watching and stuff," said Xavier before the hour-long live program began. "It's supposed to be a real fun experience."
But Xavier had no idea how fun it would really be.
Mike Keith, the play-by-play announcer for the Tennessee Titans hosted the event. After telling Xavier's story to the crowd, he had some news for the future Vol.
"We've got a special person here to see you," said Keith, "a very tall person. Where is Kyle?"
Kyle, as in, Vol basketball's very own Kyle Alexander. With him, a gift. A new laptop to help Xavier start this new chapter in his life.
Xavier gave Alexander a hug, having a hard time holding back his emotions.
"There was no choice but to bust out in tears, you know?" laughed Xavier, eyes still puffy from an emotional day.
"It was all a total surprise, a total surprise," smiled Kim, as she looked around the room for her son. "And you want to talk about family? That was our family coming to us. It was amazing."
All of this, from getting into the school of his dreams, to being accepted as a part of the family, Xavier won't forget it anytime soon.
"For them to put something together like that, it tugs at my own heart in that way." said Xavier. "I'm so uplifted by UT and then all the extra stuff they're doing for me, it's phenomenal. That's going to stay true to my heart for a very long time."
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