Inspiring America

Meet the College Wrestler Who Went From Homeless to Heavyweight

Inspiring America: From Homeless to College Heavyweight Wrestler 1:48

Jaime Miranda is a college wrestler. Few sports are more demanding, and none are less glamorous. A senior at Central College, Jaime is a young man who has long wrestled with life’s adversities. When Jaime was little, his father walked out on him, his mother and sister. His mother struggled to provide, but when rent money ran out they had few options.

“We just got evicted a few times. And sometimes we would have a car and we would, uh, camp out in that for a while,” Jaime told NBC News.

Jaime Miranda

In high school, sports kept him off the streets. Soon though he learned his mother was dying of cancer.

“I had a great mother, as like, a hero and a protector,” Jaime said.

Jaime arrived at college with a hot head and a huge chip on his shoulder. The loss of his mother and arrival at a new school made the transition difficult. He often thinks about leaving, but Central College wrestling coach Eric Van Kley was determined to make sure Jaime didn’t give up.

“I always told him point blank quitting is not an option for you. I'm never going to give up on you, Central College isn't going to give up on you nor can you give up on yourself,” Van Kley said.

Central College wrestling coach Eric Van Kley

Jaime sought and got help from professors. His teammates and even their parents embraced him. Jaime is co-captain of the wrestling team this year, and when he graduates in the spring he wants to work with kids like him.

“My message is going to be that there's like a way out and that you're not, you're life isn't determined by your circumstances,” Jaime said.

Jaime wrestling in a match

Today, Jaime is thriving thanks in part to a community that has embraced him and a coach who simply says quitting is not an option.