Real life ‘Blind Side’: Coach takes in Tenn. student after mom’s death

Emanuel Chestnut and D’Andre Litaker (Photo: WKRN)

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WKRN) – To only be 17 years old, D’Andre Litaker has gone through a lot.

His mom Stephanie Coleman, who was killed in a tragic crash on Interstate 65, was a single mother who had serious health problems.

Coleman couldn’t always provide for D’Andre and his sisters financially.

“Days my mom couldn’t feed us, we would sometimes go days without eating, sleep on the floor, go without lights and water,” the high schooler told News 2. “You know, it was hard, but some way my mom would make a way.”

When he was in the fourth grade, he met Emanuel Chestnut who was coaching an AAU basketball team.

Soon, D’Andre would become best friends with Chestnut’s son Jarek Campbell. Both are Riverdale High football players who want to play together in college.

“That’s kind of how D’Andre really became part of our family,” Chestnut told News 2. “You know, he would come and stay here on the weekend and sometimes throughout the week. We got to know his situation, got to know D’Andre’s story, and, you know, I just felt like in my heart that I just wanted to do everything I could to help him, help him have a normal life.”

Back in November, the 17-year-old’s mother died in a horrific car crash in Williamson County. His sister De’Shonte, 13, was severely injured.

“It was a tough time, a tough time for me… She’s in a better place right now and she’s watching over me and the things I do, and I’m going to make her proud,” D’Andre said.

Since he already spent so much time at the Chestnuts, the family offered him a permanent home—a real life “Blind Side” story.

“A lot of people have said that to us,” Chestnut said while smiling. “Once you think about it, if you think about it, if you seen the movie you know that’s kind of what it is.”

D’Andre said what Michael Oher was going through was similar to his situation.

The Riverdale community has also come together to help D’Andre and his family during this difficult time.

His football coach Will Kreisky and his teammates have rallied around him, too. Even complete strangers have shown up at the school.

“It’s crazy, like, I don’t even know all the people that pitched in to help us through this,” D’Andre told News 2.

The Riverdale High junior is a highly-recruited football player. The four-star defensive tackle is on the radar of nearly every major college.

His mom was his number one fan, and he’s sad she won’t be able to be in the stands to watch him play college football and possibly in the NFL.

“I know that she will be there. She won’t be in the stands, but she’ll be looking down over the field watch me play,” D’Andre said.

It was hard on the teenager not being able to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with his mom, but the Chestnuts are offering him the family he always wanted.

“Everything that myself, my family, that we’ve done for D’Andre, I mean it’s not been any intentions behind it. It was, you know it just felt like the right thing to do,” Chestnut said.

“[My mom] knows I’m in good hands, and she knows me and my younger sister will be taken care of,” D’Andre said.

D’Andre’s sister was also invited to move in but is now living with family in Pulaski.

A YouCaring account has been set up for the siblings. Click here to donate.

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