Growing up in Haiti, Junior Colson's pathway to Michigan was anything but simple. At the age of seven, Junior had to deal with the death of his father – a reality that would place him in an orphanage owned by his uncle. Though surrounded by poverty and some of the most difficult circumstances a human being can face, Junior's glowing personality would forever change the course of his life.
Back in the United States, Steve Colson and his wife, Melanie, were already experienced foster parents in the state of Tennessee. Shortly after the catastrophic earthquake in 2010, Melanie and her daughter, Amanda, had the opportunity to visit Haiti as part of a church mission. This is where the Colson's would meet 8-year old Junior for the first time.
"It was kind of overwhelming to see all of these kids that are happy and joyful, and we're in the middle of poverty," Amanda recalled. "The other part was a little bit heartbreaking because you see so much of the poverty and where they're coming from. "
This particular mission trip took the Colson's to an orphanage with young children that needed essentials like clothing and formula – the same orphanage Junior had been calling 'home'. Once the Colson's met Junior, it didn't take long for them to realize he was special.
"Seeing Junior for the first time – he just stuck out. He has this bright smile and this sparkle in his eye, even though he's at an orphanage," said Melanie.
"We just connected, I don't even know how else to explain it. It's just that feeling – it's something so simple, yet it just felt so strong," said Amanda.
The Colson's would begin the adoption process almost immediately and, two years later, Junior would be on a plane with Melanie headed to the United States.
"That was my first plane ride ever," said Colson. "When I first got off the terminal, all of our family members and friends were all there holding up 'welcome home' signs. The first thing I saw in America was a Michigan hat. That's what all of my family members were wearing, they're big Michigan fans."
It wouldn't take long for Juniors physical abilities to become apparent, getting involved in football almost immediately upon his arrival to the United States. For Junior, sports provided the perfect opportunity to try and brush up on his English skills. From there, Junior's pathway to Ann Arbor was set.
On one particular camp trip, Junior's mother convinced him to make the drive up to Michigan from a camp in Kentucky – a visit that would earn him a scholarship offer from Jim Harbaugh himself.
You can watch the full video of BTN's Junior Colson feature below: