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Choice of leading prom lady is testament to son's loving concern

While his Leto High classmates came to the prom Saturday night with teens on their arms, Avery Adams strutted with his mom, Jacqueline.

By ERNEST HOOPER
Published April 10, 2006


[Times photo: Ernest Hooper]
Avery Adams took his mother Jacqueline to Leto High's prom at the Indian Cultural Center Saturday night.

Leto High senior Avery Adams went all out to look good for his prom date on Saturday night.

He bought a black vest, matching black pants, a bright red shirt and a red striped tie. The outfit was accentuated with red and black alligator shoes adorned with gold tips.

"Don't forget the shoes," he boasted.

Avery went a step further by having his name stitched on the front of the vest along with the words, "Leto High 2005 Homecoming King." With his name and the number 4 stitched on the back of the vest, it looked sort of like the football jersey he wore in the fall.

So who was the girl who prompted Avery to go to such lengths? Who inspired him to spend hundreds of dollars at Mr. Man?

The same woman he's been striving to please all his life. His mother. Yes, Avery took his mom, Jacqueline, to Leto's prom at the India Cultural Center on Lynn Road.

"That's my heart," said Avery, gesturing to his mother.

Avery admitted he wanted to do something different, but this was about more than standing out.

It was about standing together.

About a year ago, Jacqueline decided she could no longer keep her problem to herself. She sat Avery down in the living room of their West Tampa home and told him the secret she had held from everyone but her husband, Freddie Sr.

"I have breast cancer."

Ever since then, Avery has spent even more time than usual with Jacqueline. He worries about her, and she worries about his concern affecting his school work.

Jacqueline has been at almost every game Avery has played during his youth. For the longest time, Avery turned to the stands and blowed kisses during football and baseball games. Everyone would think he was saluting a girl, but those kisses were aimed at Jacqueline.

"They would say, "Awww that's so cute,"' Jacqueline explained.

"What can I say? I'm a mama's boy," Avery said with a smile.

In the fall, Jacqueline, a cook at Oak Grove Elementary, sold turkey legs and barbecue chicken at Leto football games. She seemed to know as many kids as any student standing near the entrance.

She saved her warmest words for Avery, however.

"He's never given me any trouble," said Jacqueline. "We've always been close."

Leto teachers and administrators also gave glowing accounts about Avery. He has a nice disposition and greets everyone with a smile. He also has a certain energy that attracts kids and adults.

That energy and kindness is what led him to invite his mom and give her a better prom than she had as a senior. When Jacqueline decided to attend the 1977 Leto prom at the old Curtis Hixon Hall, she didn't have a date or a friend with a car. So she asked a guy younger than her and agreed to pay for everything.

"This time," she laughed, "he's paying."

So while his classmates walked in with young teens on their arms, Avery strutted with Jacqueline.

She smiled and beamed, looking little like a person battling cancer.

Jacqueline, however, is fighting it in her own way. Since being diagnosed, she has refused medical treatment other than medicine that "helps keep my blood pure," she said. For now, she's swearing off conventional approaches and relying on faith.

"I'm in pain sometimes, but I just pray over it," Jacqueline said. "I'm just concentrating on God. Avery said, "Mama, I'm worried.' I told him, "God's going to take care of me, just take care of yourself."'

Avery Adams hopes to attend a Mississippi junior college and play football in the fall.

That's all I'm saying.

Ernest Hooper can be reached at 813 226-3406 or hooper@sptimes.com

[Last modified April 10, 2006, 21:57:26]


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