In sports statistics don't always tell the whole story.

Life is more to the point.

There isn't a whole lot of wiggle room, especially when it comes to boys who are involved in drugs, hanging with the wrong crowd and skipping school to go joy riding in a car at the age of 12, like Detorrion Harvey did.

"He was on his way to becoming a statistic," said Jerry Williams, Harvey's adoptive uncle. "It was a bad situation if he didn't get out of there. It was only going to get worse."

Harvey is now 17, about 2,000 miles away from Saginaw, Mich., and even further when it comes to a way of life.

The Desert Vista junior is a one of the defensive linemen for the Thunder as it prepares for its first-round playoff game at 7 p.m. Friday against Mesa Mountain View.

He has been in Arizona since 2006 when the family moved out because of a job transfer. Harvey was adopted by Williams after his mother, LaTosha, died because of a brain aneurysm.

"I am so proud of him," Williams said. "He is articulate, smart and responsible. If he does nothing else I know I helped him become a man."

While the loss of his mother and the separation from his siblings (Seneca, 13, and Amese, 4, are still in Michigan) has been difficult, Harvey knows he found his place in Arizona.

"It makes me feel like it all happened for a reason, so God could put me in a good situation," he said. "I was given a second family and even a third family with the football team.

"I was very lucky to get out of my living conditions and the situation I was in to still be alive."

Harvey knows how close he came to not making it out as he lost his good buddy, Torrian Kelly, the day they decided to go joy riding instead of going to school.

A third teenager was driving on a wet road when he lost control of the car after hitting a dip in the road at a high rate of speed. The car went off the road and rammed into a tree.

Kelly was killed in the accident. Harvey ended up with a broken arm, pelvis and ankle.

"That's when I knew I had to get rid of my old ways and start a new path," said Harvey as he rubbed the scar on this right arm that reminds him daily of his old life. "It led me to Arizona, with this team and on to something better."

Harvey has become an integral part of the Thunder's resurgence. Developing physically and gaining confidence almost as fast as the team's turnaround.

"D has done a great job," Desert Vista coach Dan Hinds said. "He has a bright future ahead of him. He makes everyone laugh all of the time. He has a really neat personality."

Before moving to Ahwatukee Foothills Harvey didn't have much experience in sports, but the 6-foot-1, 270-pounder has flourished in the sporting environment.

"We didn't play sports in Saginaw," Harvey said. "We only did things that got us in trouble. Now I have somewhere else to put my energy."

Energy is a good way to describe the way the defensive line has been playing of late for the Thunder.

The unit has become a force behind the play of Riley Pendergast (29 tackles, 3.0 sacks), Spencer Schumacher (39 tackles, 4.5 sacks), Cory Arnold (37 tackles, 3.5 sacks), Harvey (22 tackles, 1 sack) and others.

The group gets together once a week at defensive line coach Andy Arredondo's house for dinner and film watching.

"It's a great time to hang with my boys and it helps keep me grounded," Harvey said.

And if that doesn't do the trick, all he has to do is look down at his jersey each Friday night.

"The reason I wear No. 78 on the football field is because it is the year my mom was born," Harvey said. "My mom is my inspiration on the football field and I hope that she would be proud of me."

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.