BALTIMORE (WJZ) — When a form of smoke-able cocaine swept across the U.S. in the 1980s, the term “crack baby” was born. It was said that the children of addicted mothers would never amount to much.
But a chance encounter led WJZ reporter Mike Schuh to realize nothing could be farther from the truth.
Mike had never picked up a hitchhiker, until he saw Montay Henson.
Montay may not look like a college student, in his suit and tie, but he travels like one.
Most mornings, he takes the 51 bus. If he’s running late, though, he hitchhikes. That’s where Mike Schuh came in.
On their short drive earlier this month, Mike learned a lot about the 24-year-old.
“Both of my parents were addicted to drugs and I was born with crack in my system three months premature,” he says.
He has 14 brothers and sisters, none of whom share the same mother and father.
“To have wisdom, you have to be able to learn from other people’s mistakes, so I tried to just look at my parents and look at my father, especially, who spent a lot of time incarcerated,” he says.
Street drugs ended up killing his father. But early on, his grandma saved him.
She’s a janitor who cleans a downtown Baltimore high rise at night.
“As soon as I got with my grandmother, she instilled, you know ‘learning is fun’ in me and I really did have fun learning growing up,” he says.
After two years of good grades at Morgan State, he had to drop out. Tuition was just too expensive.
Then, while working a warehouse job, he saw an ad for the Year Up training program. It provides low-income adults with six months of technical training followed by a six-month internship — a year-long investment resulting in a job.
Program leaders say he’s “doing exceptional” and call him a “natural leader.”
Thousands of people have seen and responded to Mike’s post on his Facebook page about giving Montay a ride that morning, sending Montay prayers and encouragement for continued success.
After the three-mile ride to class, Mike says Montay “looked me in the eye, shook my hand and said thank you.”
“Then he pulled out $6, he wanted to pay me for the ride. No way. I should have paid him.”