When Carl Pierre-Louis addressed an audience of nearly 1,100 at Fridays All-Dade Athletic Awards, he moved nearly everyone to tears.
The attendees listened in silence to the remarkable journey Pierre-Louis, an 18-year-old senior from Felix Varela High School, took from earthquake-ravaged Haiti to a high school football field in West Kendall.
He lost his father in the earthquake that devastated his home country in January of 2010.
A year later, his brother was shot to death.
Now, Pierre-Louis hopes his scholarship to play football at Fairmont State in West Virginia will help him get his mother out of Haiti.
I just want to thank God because I know he put me here today for a reason, said Pierre-Louis, who received a standing ovation Friday as he walked to the stage at Jungle Island to receive the Leo Suarez/Walter Krietsch Courage Award at The Miami Heralds annual awards breakfast.
The award is given annually to a member of the local high school sports community who shows extraordinary courage in the face of adversity.
I just want to thank all the people who helped me to get to this point. When I got here from Haiti, I didnt even know what football was. Now, I have a chance to have a future.
Pierre-Louis who was born in Miramar, but had returned to Haiti - has overcome plenty.
Hes one of the most unbelievable kids youll come across, said Matt Dixon, Pierre-Louis football coach at Varela, who now coaches at Miami Palmetto. The things he has been through just give me chills. He never once complained or asked for people to tell his story. All he wanted was a chance.
He joined Dixon on stage and the two shared a tearful hug. They had come a long way.
The day the earthquake struck, Pierre-Louis nearly lost everything.
The tremors began when he and three friends were taking a taxi back home from a basketball practice.
I remember we were near a hillside when everything started shaking, Pierre-Louis said. This big rock landed near the car. All I remember was getting out of the car and there was dust everywhere. The road was backed up with cars, and it was chaos.
The four friends survived without injury.
But the worst was yet to come.
He said he and his friends decided to walk the rest of the way, a journey that took over two hours and made worse by the horrific sights they witnessed along the way.
There were people injured, bleeding, some dead, Pierre-Louis said. There were people running around trying to help, but there wasnt much you could do.
When Carl finally reached his house in Port-au-Prince, he found his mother, Carole Jean Pierre, and a few other family members alive.
When I saw my mom, it was the best feeling ever, Pierre-Louis said. I ran and hugged her.
But his father, Carlo Pierre-Louis, had not come home.
The family got the bad news a couple of days later.
His father, a bank security guard, was killed when the buildings roof collapsed as he and others tried to get everyone out.
I remember my cousins sat me down and they told me, Pierre-Louis said. I couldnt believe it. It didnt seem real.
Pierre-Louis school in Haiti, where he played basketball, was destroyed. His mother was determined for him to finish high school even if it meant they had to separate.