Lincoln — When Lincoln East High School football phenom Malachi Coleman announced he’d be playing for the Nebraska Huskers next season, it was the completion of the ultimate Hail Mary.
Twelve years earlier, Coleman’s mother left him and his younger sister, Nevaeh, by the side of the road and never returned. Coleman suffered abuse in the foster care system. Eventually he and his sister were adopted by a loving family, but so much damage had been done.
“He was a broken kid,” said his dad, Craig Coleman.
“He lived for today and only today and nothing mattered,” added his mom, Miranda Coleman.
By his own admission, he was a mean and selfish jerk who refused to do anything kind for anybody.
“Because nobody had really helped me up to that point,” he said.
So when the Nebraska School Activities Association ruled that high school athletes could now profit off their name and likeness, it came as no surprise that Coleman was first in line. The shocker was how he planned to spend it.
His parents say Coleman walked into a local restaurant and offered to promote a burrito, on the condition that a portion of the proceeds went to one cause — it had to go to the foster care system.
“How do you not want to be on board with that?” restaurant owner Nick Maestas said.
Coleman’s transformation began a few years earlier after an hourlong argument in which his mom insisted he do something selfless.
“I threw out at least 100 ideas of things he could do,” Miranda Coleman said. “And exasperated, I finally said, ‘What about holding a door? Can you hold one door for one person?’ And finally, he was like, ‘I can hold a door.'”
The next day at school he held a door for someone. Then another and another. At church he held the door for the entire congregation.
Now he says kindness is his passion. It all stemmed from holding a door for someone.
“Once I realized how good it makes me feel to help other people, it’s just something that I knew I wanted to continue in my life,” Coleman said.
He hopes to open many more of the most important doors — the ones that lead to a forever home for kids in the foster care system.
To contact On the Road, or to send us a story idea, email us: OnTheRoad@cbsnews.com.
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