JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Life hasn't always been so cheerful for 20-year-old Sean Furlong. His story begins in Louisville, Kentucky where his mother was diagnosed with leukemia.
"WhenI was 10, she passed away." he said. "It was sad."
That was 2002. His brother, Griffin, was 6. They took up baseball to cope. But their father and family fell on hard times. Bouncing from friends and family. Living in hotels and shelters. Homeless for a year and a half by summer 2007.
"I couldn't talk about it with my friends at school," Sean said. "They asked like where do you live? I'd just say 'Oh, I live downtown.'"
Sean says he endured hours long city bus rides to get to school.
"I got good grades. I got straight A's. I knew that if I was going to make a change, I would have to get good grades and go to school," he explained.
Near July 2007, a pivotal moment happened. A phone call from their grandmother came in. She and the family were able to get them rental home in Jacksonville. Finally, the family had stability.
"This is it," Sean said as he pointed to the place he calls home. "It was probably the best day of my life."
Sean says he made First Coast High School's varsity baseball team, playing for 3 years. He's now a junior at Florida State, where he wants to be a family lawyer.
"I want to take what I've experienced and help other people," he said.
His brother, Griffin, is a junior at FCHS. Griffin excels on the baseball team and in the classroom.
"He's first in his class right now; 4.6 GPA," Sean explained.
Colleges are eying Griffin. Since age 9, he's written something special on every cap he's had: "never give up."
"The reason behind that is, we have something to play for and we're never going to give up."
Their father and family never did.
"As a father, a dad, a parent," Brian Furlong said. "I just want to say ... stick with your kids and they'll stick with you."
Perseverance while remembering:
"There's always a bright side, if you work for it," Sean explained.
The Furlong family said they think Ivy league universities are a possibility for Griffin.