Brothers By Choice

 

Written by Amy Dee Stephens in the October 2017 Issue

Brothers by Choice

Brothers By Choice

It happened on the football field, following the winning game. Three seniors from Oklahoma Christian Academy learned -via speakerphone- that they were being recruited for the Oklahoma Baptist University athletics program. The whole team cheered for Kody Wilson, Tommy Imbu and Dre Hill.

Although it’s unique for three teammates from a small Class A school to receive such an honor--what makes this story remarkable is that the three young men are brothers. Not by blood, but by choice.

During junior high, tough circumstances brought the three boys together under one roof. Kody Wilson’s football rival, Tommy, stopped showing up for school. Tommy’s dad had passed away, and he was helping raise four younger siblings. When he wasn’t doing that, he was getting in trouble with the wrong crowd.

Kody’s parents, Greg and Melissa Wilson, helped track Tommy down and started inviting him over, offering food and support. Eventually, Tommy asked if he could live with the Wilsons—and Kody begged to share his room. “We prayed about it, and now we’ve had guardianship of him six years,” said Greg.

A year later, Kody and Tommy’s friend Dre found himself in a homeless situation. His young mom could no longer financially care for her son.  She called the school to see if someone could take him in.  Dre spent the night at the Wilson’s house…and never left.

Taking in two athletes within a year was unexpected, but not out of the question for the Wilsons. Greg had grown up with foster children, and always knew he’d do the same if the need presented itself.

It’s been a dream come true for Kody to live with his two best friends. Despite close living quarters, they enjoy each other’s company. They go to school together, football practice together, and church camp together—with lots of laughing and roughhousing in between.

The Wilson’s moved the three boys to Oklahoma Christian Academy (OCA) for several reasons, but a big factor was that Dre was reading at a third grade level.

“I can’t say enough about OCA,” Greg said. “With the small student-to-teacher ratio, they were able to work with Dre, and within one year, he moved up seven reading levels. Their academics and Christ-based education has transformed my kids.”

For the Wilson’s, seeing these young men turn into leaders, on and off the football field, has been worth every moment—but the journey hasn’t been flawless.  Adding two teenage athletes to the family created growing pains financially. It also took time to establish new boundaries, especially since Tommy and Dre came from dramatically different backgrounds. “They needed love, stability and discipline, and they hadn’t had that,” Greg said.

The journey also included uncomfortable moments as people in the Wilson’s life grappled with the dynamics of their new bi-racial family. “Some of the reactions were unfortunate. Kody’s older sister, Riley, was probably affected the most. She lost some friends, but she’s been a trooper. She loves all three of her brothers.”

Greg can’t help but brag on all four of his children. “Kody has a giving heart to want to share our home with them.  Tommy has a hardened past, but he’s a natural-born leader, athlete and musician. Dre is very intelligent, despite his reading delay. He’s independent, tries extremely hard at everything, and has a heart of gold.”

The Wilsons are incredibly proud to see their boys succeeding at getting good grades, staying out of trouble, and living Christian lives.  “And they’re really good at rallying around other kids at school who are facing unfortunate situations,” Greg said.

On the football field, watching the three of them play together is a thing of beauty.

According to Greg, if one of them scores, it’s because another one of them touched the ball first. “They just click. They rely on each other. It’s been an amazing adventure to see where these kids are now.”

The prospect of continuing to play together in college is appealing, but other football offers are likely. No matter which paths they take, the Wilsons know that Kody, Dre and Tommy will be brothers for life.

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