When the gunshots rang out in the middle of the night, D’Vante Mosby would duck under the covers of his bed and do his best to ignore them.

When the gunshots rang out in the middle of the night, D’Vante Mosby would duck under the covers of his bed and do his best to ignore them.

“There were a lot of gunshots,” said Mosby, a sophomore basketball standout at Fort Osage High School, who grew up in a tough neighborhood at 36th and Brooklyn in Kansas City.

“I’d hear them at night. I’d hear them during the day. I’d be out walking and hear them – you just got used to it. Gun shots, drug dealing – I pretty much saw it all. It made me grow up fast, lot faster than most kids my age. I saw my friends on the bubble, knowing they could go one way or another with drug deals and drinking, and I knew I was never going to get associated with all that stuff.

“I wasn’t going to get involved with drugs or even drink a beer because I wasn’t going to let my mother down. She’s my hero. She’s the reason I was able to get out of that situation and be a successful high school student.”

Menime “May” Mosby was her son’s first role model. A single mother living in a tough neighborhood, she made sure that D’Vante knew right from wrong at an early age.

“D’Vante has always been a good boy,” said May, who works in the front office of an area high school. “I’ve always been proud of him. He has been around some bad influences and seen some bad things, but he has always done the right thing.

“And for that, I praise God and I am so thankful.”

D’Vante and his mother moved to the Fort Osage School District when he was in the sixth grade.

“That was one of the best things that ever happened to me and my family,” D’Vante said. “It was God’s way of getting us out of a bad situation. When I got to my new school, I’d hear my classmates say something like, ‘I hate my parents.’ And I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

“Did they know what they were saying? My dad was never around, and my mom raised me. I can’t ever imagine saying something like that about my mom. I’d listen to those kids and think, ‘They don’t know how lucky they are to have two parents.”

Mosby discovered the Fort Osage after-school Hoopsters program in the sixth grade. In the seventh grade he discovered the youth league program, and it brought back one of the few pleasant memories of his childhood.

“There was an old basketball goal at our elementary school, K.B. Richardson Elementary,” Mosby said, “which was about a block or so from where I lived. We’d go there and play – but I was never on any formal team or anything like that.

“All that happened after we moved out to Fort Osage.”

Before long, Mosby was playing an informal game when he was spotted by a local amateur coach by the name of Brett Kratzer.

“Brett became a very important role model in my life,” Mosby said. “He was an AAU coach who saw me play for another team. He called me and asked me to play for his team. We exchanged some e-mails and I met him at McDonald’s. And now, I feel like I am a part of his family.

“I go to his house for Bible study and we go to Gateway Church. We’re studying a book called ‘Do Hard Things,’ about how teenagers can get into trouble and things they can do to avoid getting into trouble.

“I think the biggest thing about today’s teenagers is that they have low expectations of themselves, and everyone else has low expectations of them, too. We can make a difference, we can change things. I’m going to do my best to make this world a better place.”

While Mosby was one of the Josh Wilson’s top players this past season at Fort Osage, the veteran coach never mention’s the sophomore’s on-court prowess when talking about the young man who is making a difference.

“We played a game at home, and after it was over, I noticed D’Vante was over helping the janitor put the chairs (that the players and coaches sat in on the floor) away,” Wilson said.

“Then, he goes around the gym and starts picking up trash. When did you ever see a high school kid do something like that? He’s probably the best – if not one of the best – players I have ever coached.

“But I don’t even think in terms of his playing ability. He is the finest young man I have ever been around.”

Fort Osage activities director Brandon Hart feels the same way.

“I’ve really been interested in the ‘Just Say Know’ series The Examiner has been running,” Hart said, “but if every kid in high school was like D’Vante, you wouldn’t have anything to write about.

“He’s a gentleman, good in the classroom, a great basketball player and a role model for all of us.”

May Mosby blushes when she hears such nice kind words about her son, but she isn’t surprised.

“D’Vante had to grow up fast,” she said. “I’m a single mom, and he had to do a lot of things for himself at a young age. Today, he is 16, but I think of him as a man. And he has done all that growing up himself.

“I am so proud when he calls me his hero and his role model, because he is my hero. He works (at a call center for the state of Kansas) 12 hours a week, plays basketball, runs track and keeps his grades up.

“He has accomplished so much in his life, and I believe there are a lot more things he can accomplish.”

Mosby agrees with that statement.

“I’m just beginning,” he said, grinning. “I could have been a number, a statistic that you read about in the newspaper or see on TV. I know God has a plan for me, and I can’t wait to see what it is.”