Nicholas Henton is 18 years old and on May 19 graduated from DeLaSalle High School. What makes Nicholas different? He would argue he isn’t different, he isn’t any better than anyone else. He is not a snob or an intellectual prude. What makes Nicholas different is his mother, Jo Ann Henton.

Jo Ann Henton is the mother of two children, Nicholas and his sister, Christina. In spite of being a single mom (divorced for over 15 years) Jo Ann was determined to make sure her son and daughter have the same opportunities as any other family.

Nicholas is a handsome young man, with a Muhammad Ali physique, and a smile that lights up his entire face. He was in the college prep program at DeLaSalle and graduated with a 3.2 grade point average. Too often the stories you read about in the Austin community are about gangbangers and street hustlers selling drugs. What about all the Nicholas Hentons in the community? Their stories are seldom told, but young people like Nicholas will make a difference if given the opportunity.

AWN: What are your immediate plans now that you’ve graduated?

Henton: “In the fall, I plan to attend Valparaiso University, and I will be playing football and baseball there. I plan to graduate in five years with a business accounting degree, I’m really interested in accounting and something I feel I want to do as a career for the rest of my life. I’m thinking about a double major, maybe in a foreign language. I’m a person that likes to do a lot of things, and I feel that my main purpose is to help people, especially children. I want to open up a center for children once I get older.

“Of course I have dreams to go to the NFL, but you know things aren’t always promised, and it’s with God what he has planned for your life. But I know definitely I want to help people. I think that living here with my family may not seem like much, but my mother, being a single parent, I can see it isn’t easy. You’re left with all the responsibilities; you’re left to depict and imagine to your children that you want them to stay with, imagining what a parent should be like. I can tell you by watching my mother, it is not easy being a single parent because you’re basically the father, too. It’s been kind of hard on my mother, but she takes on the role. She does it and takes care of us.

“I think people in my situation should show appreciation to their parents, their mother or whoever is there in the single parent home. It’s not that easy, and you must definitely show your appreciation to them.”

AWN: Did you ever have any problems with gangs, etc.?

Henton: “I never had any run-ins. I just mind my own business and don’t worry about anybody else, don’t get caught up with being part of a hip group, etc. My mom kept me so busy. I’ve been involved in all kinds of sports since I was 5 years old. I didn’t have time to be out there on the street. I started baseball at age 5, football at 11 years and track during my
sophomore year. I played football, right after football came basketball, after basketball came baseball. By that time, school was over with. In the summer, I was playing baseball for the school and football practice. I had no time to waste at all, and I’m thankful for that. I notice former football player Chris Zorich and his humanitarian organization. He is really a great role model. Like myself, he, too, was raised by a single mother who taught him to give back and help.”

AWN: How did you like attending DeLaSalle the alma mater of five of our mayors?

Henton: “It was a rigorous and very demanding school. It demanded a lot of you. It taught discipline. For instance, if you were one minute late for class, you would get a detention and detentions were not fun. For every little thing you got detention. It may seem little but it helped build character and responsibility. I feel fortunate to have the chance to attend DeLaSalle and graduating with a high grade average I hope makes my mother, sister, aunt and family members proud of me. I hope to continue to make them proud and that all my mother’s hard work and effort will be worth it.”

Nicholas was president of the Student Council during his senior year and was elected to the Catholic League All-Academic Football and Track teams this past year. Nicholas has many photos of his action on the football field, where he was a wide receiver. But Jo Ann Henton is the real hero. She raised a black son in the inner-city with love, pride, strength and courage.