Cortney's mother died of breast cancer when he was 9 years old, leaving him alone in the care of his drug-addicted father. Cortney was soon sent to live with his elderly, disabled grandmother in the rough South Park neighborhood of Houston. Cortney was challenged with having to care not only for himself and his grandmother, but also 7 of his young cousins who lived in the small house with them. Cortney possesses a great deal of inner strength, maturity and determination despite the tremendous obstacles before him -- poverty, gangs, violence, uncertainty, and a lack of parental guidance or direction. Cortney works hard to secure a better life for himself, for his grandmother, and for his community. The Beat the Odds scholarship helped Cortney to attend the University of Houston.