In Edwards, Mississippi—population 1,300—Kenya, Deshon and Warren are known as the "Martin triplets." Thanks to an inspiring upbringing, these young men have come a long way from their humble beginnings.
From the time the triplets were old enough to remember, they say education and faith have been the cornerstones of their household. "Our mom kept us in three places," Deshon says. "She kept us at church, she kept us at the house and at school. She was determined to make sure that we succeeded."
After the boys' father died when they were 10 years old, their mother, Elinder, became the primary caregiver for the triplets and their two older brothers. Though she struggled to make ends meet, she never let her sons take their education for granted. The day after their father died, Warren says his mother made certain her sons were in class. "Amid the weeping, amid the tears, the crying, the sorrow, she looked all three of us in the eyes and said, 'You're going to school,'" he remembers.
The triplets' education did not stop when they got home from school. Elinder, a language arts and reading teacher, made her sons memorize state capitals and multiplication tables before they could play outdoors. "Once we had them memorized, we could go outside, ride our bikes," Kenya says. "[As we rode,] we would sing our multiplication facts to each other."
"Mom was just determined to not let us become a statistic," Deshon says. "She was determined to make sure we succeeded and that we got out of this ghetto."