Power of caring: Concerned family takes high school football sta - KCTV5

Power of caring: Concerned family takes high school football star under their wing

At 6’5” and 230 pounds, Chester Graves, the lightning-quick senior, is one of the nation's top football recruits. (Submitted) At 6’5” and 230 pounds, Chester Graves, the lightning-quick senior, is one of the nation's top football recruits. (Submitted)
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

Everybody wants Chester Graves.

"Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Missouri, Kansas, Kansas State,” Park Hill High School football coach Josh Hood said.

At 6’5” and 230 pounds, the lightning-quick senior is one of the nation's top football recruits.

And while Graves lives with his dad just a few miles from the high school, people around the program say they've never seen either of their parents at any school or athletic activity.

But Graves has received valuable support from a completely unexpected source.

Former Kansas City Royals pitcher Jeremy Guthrie met Graves when he was a 15-year-old sophomore.

"His message to me was to keep striving, be the person you want to be, not the person other people want you to be,” Graves said.

But if Guthrie is a mentor, Hood's family is much, much more.

"The Hood family? The Hood family is my family, because they've taken me under their wing,” Graves said.

The coach and his wife, who also teaches at Park Hill, have accepted Graves as one of their own.

"He is kind of a family guy who has been brought into my family, and my wife and my kids have served as a brother and sister to him,” Hood said.

It was the Hood family that escorted Graves on senior night, and teammate Khilid Smith sees a special connection between player and coach.

"A lot of people don't know this, but coach Hood didn't have an easy childhood either, so him and Chester relate in that sense,” Smith said.

“This is a good home for him. We will teach you character. We will teach you values. We will teach you good morals here at park hill high school,” Hood said.

Teammates, coaches, teachers and concerned friends together have helped shape Graves into the successful student and athlete he has become. They make up his family.

Graves says perhaps the best advice Guthrie and Hood have taught him is that it's not enough to be a winner on the football field, he also needs to be a winner at life.

Graves says he expects to make his decision on which college to attend after the first of the year.

Copyright 2016 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.

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