Even if you don’t know his name, you’ve undoubtedly seen his picture by now: 12-year-old Devonte Hart was caught on camera exchanging a tearful hug with a cop at a Ferguson protest in Portland. The image went viral, according to this Inquisitr report, becoming something of a symbol of hope in the midst of the anger surrounding the Mike Brown shooting.
What you may not know is that the hug is just the latest — and most visible — series of moments in the life of the young man that highlight his journey from a baby born addicted to drugs in the projects, to a thoughtful and caring young man who only wants to inspire others, Paper Trail is reporting.
By the time he was 4-years-old, Devonte had drank alcohol, smoked, handled guns, and been shot at. He’d suffered horrific abuse and neglect. He only knew a handful of words, and the two he used most can’t be printed in this article. He was violent. He had a long list of disabilities. Like so many other black boys born in the inner city, Devonte’s future seemed to have already been written for him.
That is, until same sex couple Jen and Sarah Hart adopted him and his two siblings.
“That night, after we finally got him to sleep, I cried harder than I had ever cried in my life. I felt like there was no way we could raise this child, and the five others we had adopted.”
Through patience, love, good parenting, love, acceptance, and more love, Devonte has turned things around. And he has a heart of gold, says his mom, Jen.
“People always tell us how lucky he is that we adopted him. I tell you, we most certainly are the lucky ones. Yes indeed he is living proof that our past does not dictate our future.”
When he was 11-years-old, he asked for one thing for his birthday: the chance to raise money for charity. He asked for the same thing again for his 12th birthday. At the grocery store, as the store cashier talked to him about a future in sports, Devonte said he didn’t know what he wanted to be when he grows up, but he definitely wants to help people. And most famously, he showed up to Portland’s Ferguson protest, according to the Christian Science Monitor, with a sign offering “Free Hugs” — an offer that Portland cop Bret Barnum took him up on.
“I think this kid will be alright. No matter what is tossed at him.”
Devonte is only 12; hopefully, as he matures into a young man, even more heartwarming moments will become a part of his story.
[Image courtesy of: Christian Science Monitor]