FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Kiara Kabbara always believed that basketball would be her way out. But, as the DISD Lincoln High senior and star athlete waited to hear if she would be one of the winners of TCU’s Community Scholars program, her initial screams were for her friend.

“They told us that only two of us got it,” says Kiara, 18, “so we’re all like emotional… and we’re just like `oh, my gosh’ and they called Kiya’s name and I was like YES!!!”

For her friend. Her coaches and principal at Lincoln say it’s the kind character and selflessness that’s made Kiara a true leader on the campus. So the cheers from her classmates continued when her name was called next.

“I was really in shock,” says Kiara, “I knew that somehow my hard work would pay off, but I didn’t know it would be to this extent.”

Kiara Kabbara always believed that basketball would be her way out. (photo credit: CBS 11 News)

For Kiara, today’s rush of hugs and tears are a well deserved antidote to some very tough times. She says when she was around 8, her father abandoned the family and they lost their home and became temporarily homeless.

“Some days, we slept in the car. Some days we slept with my mother’s friends. But, my Mom she always made it positive. She didn’t want to wear out our welcome, so we would go to the library and read.”

Kiara says her “warrior Mom” never let her or her older brother lose their faith, or their dreams. Then the athlete with basketball dreams tore her ACL, not once, but twice.

“That was hard, that was real hard. To think that your only way out was taken away from you.”
Then, at the Boys and Girls Club, she learned that her brains could give her that bounce.

“At the end of that I started to really study more and work every day with the same grit and persistence that I had with athletics, I changed to academics.”

Now, she’s set to graduate at the top of her class– with options for college.

As for TCU, a spokesperson says the Community Scholars program is an intentional effort to recruit close to home and increase diversity on the campus. They’ll hand out roughly $13 million in scholarship offers this week.

“It’s about blessing very deserving students in the DFW area and also answering prayers for a lot of parents,” says Timeka Gordon, TCU’s Director of Community Scholars Programs. “We know they can go anywhere; but, we want them to come to TCU.”

Today, Kiara was surrounded by supporters from the Boys and Girls Club. But, she couldn’t wait to reach her working Mom on the phone to share the great news.

“She’s a warrior, she definitely is. She has always been there for me, regardless… through bad games, good games, bad grades, good grades… always there motivating me to be the best person I can be. I love her.”
Her laughing grateful Mom claimed that she didn’t cry, she was, after all, at work. And although Mom knows best, I think we know better.