Vick surprises 2 grads with $5,000 scholarships

Kathy Matheson, Associated Press (via The Grio) | June 13, 2011

PHILADELPHIA (AP) – In the minutes before giving his first commencement speech, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick professed to be more nervous than before a football game.

He had nothing to worry about. A lovingly raucous crowd of several hundred cheered Vick throughout his remarks Friday to graduates of the alternative Camelot high schools at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia.

The fact that he surprised a pair of students with $5,000 college scholarships didn’t hurt either. The theme of redemption proved to be the heart of the connection between the ex-con NFLsuperstar and the 450 graduates. Camelot’s six campuses in Philadelphia serve about 1,800 students with emotional, disciplinary or academic problems.

In speeches during Friday’s ceremony and in a private meeting with Vick before the big event, several graduates spoke of rebounding from previous troubles or poor choices to earn a diploma with the second chance they were given at Camelot.

Radames Quinones, 17, who met with Vick, said he ran with a gang, ditched class, assaulted someone and got kicked out of several schools before finding a home at Camelot’s Shallcross Academy in northeast Philadelphia. He hopes to attend culinary school in the fall.

“It was like a family I never had,” Quinones said of the Shallcross staff. “They treat you like their own kids.”  (Read more)