DU basketball player Autrail Manning could be compared to the old “In Living Color” comedy skit about the Jamaican family with 20 jobs apiece: The 6-foot-1 senior point guard also is a fulltime student, father, and part-time barber and security guard.
Manning, a criminal justice major, describes his schedule as hectic at times, but says his 2-year-old son, Autrail Manning Jr., provides the motivation he needs to do what has to be done, all the while maintaining a 2.8 GPA.
He is taking 18 hours this semester and says he expects to complete his courses this summer and graduate in 2011.
“Because of my son – my motivation – I kept pushing,” Manning says.
Manning, who graduated from John Ehret High School in Algiers in 2003, was injured in a car accident after high school graduation, prompting a two-year break before college. In 2005-06, he attended a junior college in Kansas on a basketball scholarship. He transferred to a junior college in Chicago for 2006-07, but said he found the racial environment to be hostile. He transferred to DU the following year.
Manning says his day starts late, but it also ends very late. He starts classes at 10 a.m. and then attends practice from 6:30-9:15 p.m. or later. After practice, he talks to his son, attempts to get as much schoolwork done as possible and gets some rest for the day.
During gaps in his schedule, Manning cuts hair at New Image and works as a security guard in the Canal Place mall. He also cares for his toddler at least three times a week when mom Latashia Brown, a student at Southern University-New Orleans, is at work or in class.
While sometimes he is able to get eight hours of sleep, Manning says, the schedule isn’t easy. He says staying on top of things requires that he stay organized by writing everything down in his notebook.
“Even with having some parental support, at times, it’s difficult because I have to bring my son with me to class and practice,” says Manning. Even so, Manning says he loves spending time with his son and says that Autrail Junior is the reason he works so hard.
“One of the main reasons for working like I do is so I can be able to provide for my son,” says Manning.
His son attends Children World Learning Center, which Manning says offers toddlers a solid educational foundation. Manning says he believes education is important, and that’s why his son was enrolled in the center.
Manning had to face another stressor recently, when he was the victim of an on-campus break-in on a game night the Friday before the Christmas break. When he returned to his apartment, “the stuff I worked hard for was gone.”
He said he almost “felt like quitting,” but then he thought of his son, straightened up and kept on pushing toward his goal.