LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) – Matthew Barnes is a Tight End for the Ragin Cajuns.
There were several times in his life where he could have gone down a dark path, but instead, he always found the light.
“You can take this path,” he said, “football, it did save me.”
Barnes faced a lot of adversity growing up.
His mother went to prison when he was just five years old, and spent five years in a penitentiary.
On top of being separated from his mother, his father abandoned his family.
“I just didn’t understand why somebody would leave your life,” he said.
Barnes moved in with his aunt and uncle following his mothers arrest.
Once she was finally released, instead of harboring anger, he gave forgiveness.
“I think you deserve second chances,” he explained, “I didn’t really understand what happened but I just knew that was my mother and that’s who I came from.”
Barns admitted he was willing to take that next step with his father and give him a second chance.
But in his absence, Barnes never felt a void.
“Middle school, high school, college coaches all of them have been father figures to me,” he said, “so the whole time, I had a father.”
Going down the field instead of going down the wrong path is what helped Barnes get him to where he is today.
While he may not know his father, he has found other family.
“We called each other and we talked for about five hours,” Barnes said of his brother
The two connected through Facebook, “after 23 years of not knowing him, knowing that there were some people there but finally meeting someone.”
Catching up like old friends, telling life stories and sharing memories, it was an unforgettable moment.
Now, Barnes is concentrating on school.
He graduated with a business degree and is currently in grad school at UL.
You may have seen Barnes this past weekend, in the end zone.
“I was happy for Matt,” said Head Coach Billy Napier, “He’s been through a lot, back for a sixth year. To see him catch that and run it in for a touchdown, that was fun to see.”
Barnes suffered three injuries during his football career.
But that never stopped him from getting back out there.
“Everybody knows right from wrong,” he said, “you have to stick with the right. Even if it’s a hard decision.”
Barnes will complete grad school with his MBA in the spring.