“You have to grow up faster. There’s no time for sidestepping, you gotta stay on track and do what you have to,” Matthew Lord said of growing up with just his mom, Katherine, and six adopted siblings.
It was that attitude which the Sealy High School senior also applied to his football, track and education paths that allowed him to have the successes he’s had in his time in Sealy ISD.
All of his hard work paid off last week when Lord was honored on the stage of the Houston Sports Awards for winning one of three $5,000 scholarships provided by the Brothers in Arms foundation for student-athletes who excelled on the field and in the classroom and were raised in single-parent households.
“Brothers in Arms, formed under the leadership of Houston quarterbacks Andre Ware, Warren Moon, Deshaun Watson, and Vince Young, are proud to offer financial assistance to graduating high school student-athletes who wish to attend a college or university. This one-time award will be given to minority students who display leadership qualities, play a high school sport, and are being raised by a single parent,” the foundation’s website explains in a scholarship overview.
The four quarterbacks similarly were raised by a single mother but only Moon had a similar number of siblings to also help look out for and Lord had an extra set of circumstances added on top of his own adoption.
“Growing up with a single mom and family of seven is kind of hard, especially the family I have; all the other six have some type of mental or physical incapability,” Lord explained. “You have to grow up faster … but at the same time, missing a father, you have to learn stuff on your own. You have to learn stuff from other people, like Robert Perryman; he’s been a big person in my life, he taught me how to drive, do all these other things. But I’m not going to say having a single mother inhibited me growing up. My mom shaped me into the person I am today and I’m grateful for that.”
One door she did open for Matthew was to the athletic arena where he was able to gain numerous other brothers and sisters over his time on the football and track teams. The big man in charge of all of the sports teams at Sealy High School has been able to see first-hand the bonds he’s created with his teammates in addition to his coaches.
“My relationship with Matthew really goes back from us talking about cars, how to change a flat,” said Shane Mobley, head football coach and athletic director. “He’ll drive by now, I’ll tell him ‘Hey, Matt check this out on your car,’ or something like that. He reminded me a lot of a young man that I coached in Sweetwater several years back that played in the NFL, Joseph Banyard.”
Banyard similarly came from a single-parent household and Mobley noted the two still stay in touch consistently, showing the strength of the bond they created.
“There’s several other of these young men that if I don’t build that relationship personally, I have a coach that does, or there’s a teacher here on campus that does,” Mobley said. “We’re not trying to replace any kind of parent or anything like that but sometimes when you’re from a single-family home, and in Matthew’s case for our young men, if there’s not a man in the house, we try to do the best we can to at least guide them in certain ways.”
Of course, that also means he was just as happy to find out that Lord won the scholarship as the recipient was.
“I’m at Walmart, of all places, one afternoon a few days (after the interview process),” Mobley explained. “Matthew calls me and, of course, there’s people around and I want to get really loud. But he says, ‘Hey coach, Vince Young just called me!’ and I said ‘OK, that’s what we’re talking about!’”
Lord’s side is that he was about ready to go to work when he got a call from an unknown number.
“I mean, I don’t answer phone calls when I don’t know the number most often but I saw the voicemail afterward, I didn’t read the whole thing but I saw his name in the description,” Lord said. “That was right before I was going to work so I got my clothes on real fast, started heading over and I called him back and he told me he liked the story I had and that he was excited to meet me and excited for the whole event, one of the best times ever.”
He added that it was also one of his most favorite shifts he’s worked at Kathy’s Korner in Sealy.
“One of the best ones I’ve ever had. I told everyone there,” he said of the good news he had just received. “After I talked to Vince, I called a bunch of people; my mom, all my friends, it was a good five hours.”
Lord mentioned he had planned on giving his mother a shout-out had he gotten an opportunity to hold the microphone at the ceremony, but it never did arise.
“I was gonna thank her if I got mic time and I wasn’t gonna try and make her cry, but I felt like if I did say something it would make her cry,” he said.
Still, he took the stage alongside Moon, Ware and Young as well as Langston Ellis, a football player from Westbury High School and Vankey “Blu” Burks, a basketball player from Westside High School, on a night where Houston athletes of all levels were honored. Among those honorees included nine-time Olympic gold medalist Carl Lewis, who had a specific message for Lord.
“Don’t stop until it absolutely cannot happen,” he said
And when he was asked how that was going to help him moving forward, Lord responded by saying, “Don’t stop; failures are gonna come, obstacles are going to come, you’ve just got to bypass and get through them to get back on mission. … For me, myself, I say I’ve got a good head on my shoulders so I’m not just gonna give up on anything; outside resources, my family, my mom especially, some of the coaches here, just everybody will help me get there.”
His next mission after graduating from Sealy High in the spring will be to attend Sam Houston State University after he created a connection with a pretty important person in the school’s hierarchy.
“The president of the college was actually there at our table,” Lord said of Dana Hoyt. “They acted like people we didn’t know but when we went up and came back, she introduced herself.”
All three scholarship winners had similar experiences with the colleges of their choice, earning an acceptance notice that Monday night as well.
Lord plans on studying kinesiology and although he knows the major will be demanding, he understands and will appreciate the grind to get to where he can give back.
“Ultimately, I know I have to go to graduate school but I want to be a physical therapist just so I can help people get back to what they like doing,” Lord said.
All the while, the message from his mother will be ringing in his head; “Do you, do what you have to in life,” Lord explained. “Don’t fall for these other people that are trying to bring you down. Just do what you have to do, and you’ll go where you want to go in life.”