By CLINT FOSTER
SANTO – It was a typical night in the spring of 2011.
Sheri Barling was driving a young Zarmorris Cannon home from a basketball game in the Dallas area. Rather than paying to join an AAU team to nurture the basketball talents of their son Cooper, Sheri and her husband Glen opted instead to start their own team to give under-privileged kids the opportunity to play select basketball without the steep financial commitment associated with AAU.
The Barlings frequently drove players who didn't have a reliable form of transportation to and from games and practices, even inviting the entire team to stay out at their Santo home on occasion before weekend tournaments. But this particular car ride back to Cannon's home in Cedar Hill would change all of their lives forever.
"What's wrong with you?" Sheri asked Zarmorris, noticing the usually effervescent young big man was especially glum.
"I don't want to go home," he said.
The Barlings knew that Zarmorris had grown up in a situation that was less than ideal, with a father he didn't know and a mother who rarely participated in his life at all. For the better part of a year, the Barlings and their two kids, Cooper and Jerin, had discussed the possibility of Zarmorris living with them permanently if the opportunity arose.
"You don't have to," Sheri told Zarmorris. "Glen and I have talked about you living with us, but we weren't sure if that's what you wanted to do. Why don't you think about it and let us know."
A few short days later, Zarmorris called the Barlings on a cellphone they had bought and paid for in the event that he ever need their help.