Chicago high school athlete's bond with school resource officers helps clear path to college

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Thursday, July 21, 2022
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Omarion James, a standout basketball player at Foreman High School, has formed a bond with his school resources officers that is so strong, they've become like family.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Omarion James was a standout basketball star at Foreman High School, and also started on the football team. The multi-sport athlete also managed to keep up with school work and got good grades. But it was his leadership that got the attention of school resource officers John Bauer and Katherina Nowakowski, who took him under their wing.

"These two, they not like police officers. I look at them as family," James said.

"He's such a great kid. Never got in trouble at school," said Nowakowski.

James needed this family more than ever two years ago when tragedy struck. His 13-year-old sister Amaria was shot and killed by a stray bullet intended for someone else while sitting on the family's front porch. His best friend and teammate was also injured in the shooting. Days later his brother was shot to death. Somehow James managed to get through it.

"It was a miracle to me and Kathy that he was able to keep his grades up, play sports, despite all these tragedies," Bauer said.

Despite his success in high school however, James was not hearing from colleges. That's when the officers stepped in.

Bauer said when he told Omarion's story to the recruiting office at Jacksonville State they immediately offered him a spot and reduced tuition. Omarion will be the first in his family to go to college.

"I said I wanted to get away just 'cause, like, the trauma I was facing, I wanted to get away. I felt like if I get away I'd be able to focus," James said.

Officers Bauer and Nowakowski plan to help him stay focused in college. They are bonded together. posing with family during his senior appreciation night photo.

"I told him anything he needed, John and I would be here for him," Nowakowski said.

Even though Omarion is graduated and off to college, the officers remain involved. In fact officer Bauer plans to drive Omarion the 11 hours to Jacksonville State, leaving early Monday morning. He's also trying to raise money to help Omarion pay the rest of his tuition and has started a GoFundMe page.