Nightly News   |  December 19, 2013

Brothers escape Dickensian childhood to earn American Dream

The Huynh brothers, who raised themselves on the streets of Dorchester, Mass., have overcome incredible odds to earn prestigious college scholarships that will better their lives. NBC’s Harry Smith reports.

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>>> finally tonight a story first told in the pages of the boston globe and a heartwarming conclusion was announced on social media . it went instantly around the world this week. it told the story of two kids from boston and the story left so many people inspired by how they beat the odds in such a big way. we get their story tonight from nbc's harry smith .

>> reporter: in some parts of the dorchester of boston a, woing class veneer masks streets of poverty and crime. here, hopes and dreams have a way of being just out of reach. but george nguyen grabbed hold of a dream when he logged on to the yale website this week.

>> i saw a bulldog on the screen saying welcome class of 2018 . sing hg in the background.

>> reporter: yep, george was accepted at yale . george and his older brother johnny, on scholarship to study engineering at u-mass have a back story that would give charles dickens pause. it found its way onto the pages of the boston globe two years ago.

>> they did the work, kept their head down, walked through trouble on the street every night.

>> reporter: billy baker 's globe story.

>> we have to do everything ourselveses.

>> reporter: with video on their website chronicled how the brothers were academic all stars at bottomston's elite latin school . told of their father's suicide, their mother's struggle with mental illness. they basically raised themselves.

>> it helped us become more independent. to realize that we are all that we have with.

>> reporter: they were not completely alone. they came to rely on emmett fogert and the dorchester youth collaborative, a safe haven for neighborhood teens. sometimes emmett fed them. sometimes he was the only one to talk to.

>> for them to keep at it and trust us this much and to have this kind of victory, it's very deep.

>> reporter: when billy tweeted and george 's acceptance to yale the good news spread like crazy.

>> that night it took off. it broke the internet.

>> reporter: it turns out george may have other plans. if you don't go to yale , where might you go?

>> harvard.

>> reporter: lest you think george is getting a big head about it, he realizes it is not all about him.

>> there are a lot of others striving to do what we are and we want to be the source of hope. if they see we can do it, why can't they?

>> reporter: life could have squeezed the hope t out of the brothers. that it didn't is a kind of miracle. harry smith , nbc news, boston .