In May of 2012, Justin Hardee graduated third in his class from The Ginn Academy. In December of 2013, his beloved mother, Estella, passed away. In December of 2014, he graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in communications. He's twenty years old and is now well on his way to earning a master's degree in sports management. How did this happen? It took a lot of hard work, and a lot of people paying attention to where Justin was headed and guiding him along the right path.
|Justin Hardee and his father, Arthur, in the house where Justin grew up|
|Justin sent this photo of his mother, Estella, for this story|
|V'Angelo Bentley, Shane Wynn, and Justin Hardee drove together in terrible weather from Illinois to Indiana to Canton, Ohio for the state championship football game in 2013 to support their Tarblooder brothers|
|Justin Hardee, now at the University of Illinois, gets a hug from Glenville football coach, James Fisher in 2013|
Justin specifically mentions Sean Draper, currently at the Unversity of Iowa, as a significant influence on him and his friend Devan Bogard, at Ohio State. "He'd get mad at us if we were even close to doing anything stupid. Without him being on us, I don't know if we'd be in the position that we're in now," he explains.
At the beginning of his football career with Coach Ginn at Glenville, Justin knew he'd have to climb some mountains to achieve his goals. He ran track and worked hard on getting faster and stronger. He was accepted into High Tech Academy, a CMSD post-secondary program at Cuyahoga Community College, and attended classes for half of each school day at the downtown campus. "I did hate it at one point," he says. "Everyone else got out early our senior year and I still had to go downtown to Tri-C to take more classes, but I stuck with it and I'm glad I did." These classes were what helped him to graduate early from the University of Illinois and proceed into the graduate program.
|Justin's Auntie Wanda making cupcakes for his surprise party the next day|
|Justin (the tall one in the back), and his family. L-R: Layla, Steve, Julia, Joy, Laycie, Sontee, Wanda, and Angel|
Coach Ginn always says that it takes courage to be different, and it does. Justin Hardee, Ginn Academy class of 2012, is the perfect example of what that courage can earn a person.