Written by SportsDayDFW.com
South Oak Cliff's Eonte' Jenkins -- Evacuated by Katrina in 2005, shot with a .22 in 2012 -- is one tough teenager
Eonte’ Jenkins played just one season for the South Oak Cliff football team and has three scholarship offers.
That would be enough for a great story: a 6-4, 260-pound basketball player who decided to give football a try his senior year to amazing results. Jenkins, a left offensive tackle, might play collegiately at Arkansas Pine Bluff, Grambling State or Arizona Wesleyan next season.
But stopping there hardly does Jenkins’ story justice. So where to begin?
With the stray bullet that went through his living room wall, striking Jenkins in the back?
Or when Jenkins and his family escaped New Orleans’ Seventh Ward in the wake of Hurricane Katrina?
We’ll start with that .22 caliber bullet.
Around 8 p.m. on Dec. 12, Jenkins was sitting in a recliner watching TV with his little sister in his Oak Cliff home when he heard gunshots.
“I heard it, and then I felt it,” Jenkins said. “So I just fell to the ground.”
According to the police report, a stray bullet went through the wall just underneath a windowsill, striking Jenkins in the middle of his upper back. Jenkins’ mother, Kimberly Jenkins, was taking a bath when she heard the gunfire, followed shortly by her son’s screams for help.
“I was just in shock,” Kimberly said. “By the time I had made it out of the restroom, he was on the floor in the hallway crawling toward me.”
She quickly called for an ambulance. Thankfully, the bullet was slowed upon impact with the wall and chair and didn’t cause serious injury. But had Jenkins been sitting just a few inches to his left, it might have hit his spinal cord.
“They said I would have been paralyzed,” Jenkins said.
Jenkins said the incident rarely crosses his mind. He spent just an hour in the emergency room. His family has since moved to a new neighborhood; one Kimberly said is down the street from a police station. And it’s hardly the most traumatic experience Jenkins and his family has dealt with.
When Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast in 2005, the Jenkins family — Kimberly, Eonte’ and his two sisters and brother — were living in New Orleans’ Seventh Ward. Their home was consumed by floodwaters when the levees were breached. They escaped with the help of neighbor’s canoe and were dropped off at an Interstate 10 bridge — where they slept for five nights, waiting for help to arrive.
When they ran out of food, the family trekked through chest-to-chin deep water to the Superdome where thousands of evacuees were being cared for. Kimberly said Jenkins, 11 at the time, fell through an uncovered manhole and was left with a large gash on his leg.
The family received emergency meals at the stadium and returned to the bridge. The only form of antibiotic on hand for Jenkins’ cut was a small tube of Neosporin from a fellow evacuee.
The family was eventually picked up by an ambulance and brought to a bus station that routed Katrina survivors to Dallas. Kimberly said it was a miracle that her son survived nearly drowning and avoided infection.
“With all that water, he shouldn’t have made it,” Kimberly said. “He’s definitely here for a reason.”
Jenkins’ thoughts on the ordeal?
“That’s just Mother Nature,” he said.
South Oak Cliff faces Frisco Centennial in the area-round playoffs at 9 p.m. Friday at AT&T Stadium. A win would mark the first time a 4A DISD team has reached the third round since 2008.
Jenkins said he’s looking forward to playing under the bright lights of a huge venue. His mother said she’s looking forward to whatever lies ahead for her son.
“It’s been a long road, but through everything we’ve been through, it’s been a blessing,” Kimberly said. “I can’t tell you enough how proud I am of Eonte’. He’s come a long way.”