Twin basketball stars are set to compete in this year’s March Madness together after being raised in a trailer by a single mother-of-three who worked three jobs to support them.
Caleb and Cody Martin, 23, were brought up in the small town of Cooleemee, North Carolina, by hardworking mother Jenny Bennett in a single-wide trailer. They have gone on to become two of the star players on the University of Nevada’s basketball team, which just won the Mountain West Conference title.
‘I would do it all again,’ Bennett told CBS News about raising her sons on her own.
Bennett had her twins when she was a teenager and in an interracial relationship; when she first told her family she was pregnant, she found herself kicked out of her home and forced her to care for her children on her own.
The single mother also faced hatred and judgement from strangers, revealing to CBS News that one person even burned a cross outside her home because of the way that they viewed her family.
‘The emotions, the feelings, you just don’t understand why. How can somebody be so mean?’ she said.
‘You’re thinking what’s going to happen to your children when you’re not there to protect them from someone like this.
‘It’s scary. It really is scary.’
Bennett raised Cody, Caleb and their older brother Raheem in a trailer only 300 square feet in size. This trailer was raised up on foundation gray blocks and often infested with insets, the Reno Gazette Journal reports.
The mother would sometimes serve her three children meals but go without eating the food herself.
At the time, she would tell her sons it was because she wasn’t hungry. But the decision was actually due to the lack of money the family had to afford food.
‘I have a crazy, crazy amount of respect for my mom and all the stuff she’s gone through,’ Caleb told the Reno Gazette Journal in 2017.
‘Cody and I will reminisce about our childhood and we now notice all of the stuff she didn’t let us in on when we were little, all of the stuff we realize now.’
Their love for basketball actually started outside their trailer where the twins set up a hoop they found. They placed a small trampoline next to the hoop and challenged each other to a made-up game entitled Slamball.
During the game, the person with the ball would run at the hoop instead of dribbling with the goal to get to the trampoline for an opportunity to dunk the ball.
The twins played sports with their school teams while growing up, including baseball and football. But basketball was always their first passion.
Both Caleb and Cody were scouted by teams across the United States as word of two 6’6” basketball stars spread.
Together, the twins attended Oak Hill Academy, which has one of the top prep basketball teams in the nation and has trained prominent players including Kevin Durant.
Then measuring at 6’7”, Cody and Caleb went on to play basketball for North Carolina State during their freshman and sophomore years before both earning full-ride basketball scholarships to the University of Nevada.
‘It’s been tough at times, but I always told them “You sacrifice now for later,”‘ Bennett told the newspaper at the time.
‘It’s been a rough road, but to see them where they are and to see them happy, it’s been worth it for sure.’
Despite having to overcome obstacles while growing up, the twins have gone on to be stars in basketball and even had the opportunity to go pro last year.
Instead, they opted to finish their final year in college with the goal in mind to make it to March Madness with the Nevada Wolf Pack.
Through all their successes, the twins have credited their mom for helping them get to where they are today.
‘She didn’t fold,’ Caleb told CBS News. ‘It’s not in her. That’s why we are who we are.’
But all Bennett could do was express how proud she was of her own sons and how much they have accomplished over the years.
‘I don’t even know if they understand how proud I am of them,’ Bennett said. ‘They’ve done great.’
Caleb and Cody will compete with the seventh-seed Nevada Wolf Pack on Thursday in Des Moines, Iowa, as they take on the 10th-seed Florida Gators from the University of Florida.
SOURCE: Daily Mail, by Danielle Zoellner