Dallas teen overcomes homelessness, setbacks to inspire others

For 18-year-old Kiara Kabbara, basketball was never just a game, it was her way out.

For 18-year-old Kiara Kabbara, basketball was never just a game, it was her way out.

“Basketball was like my escape from the pain and the hurt,” Kiara said.

Growing up, Kiara was homeless. She says many nights were spent sleeping in the car.

But Kiara was certain that a basketball scholarship was her ticket to a better life.

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By her junior year Kiara had been all-district, her school’s female student-athlete of the year and the college offers were pouring in. Until she tore her ACL not once or twice, but three times.

Her basketball career, and future, was over.

“It was really devastating to know I put in all the work, but it wasn’t in my favor,” she said.

Out of options, Kiara started going to the Boys and Girls Club in east Dallas.

It was there she found a new path.

“I never knew that you’re actually gonna fall in love with science, you’re actually gonna fall in love, you’re actually gonna be great at math,” Kiara said.

Sneakers and gym shorts were replaced with calculators and textbooks.

This spring, Kiara will graduate as her class’ salutatorian and somehow, as a senior, she even found time to volunteer 300 hours.

In Dallas, she has become an inspiration, but around the state, it’s a comeback worth celebrating.

This week, the Boys and Girls Club named Kiara Texas’ youth of the year.

“I just wanna be that light in the world to some other person who’s going through it, to some kid who’s going through it who feels like they can’t get out of the situation,” she said. “Here’s a living example.”

Proof of what’s possible when you learn to never give up.