Bonnie Stevenson

Stevenson was 16 when she found out she was pregnant. The baby’s father was 23. The news, she said, was depressing. The expectant mother was a power forward on the basketball team at Trezevant. She played softball, too, and the French horn in the school band.

Originally from Boston, Stevenson moved to Memphis when she was 13. Shortly thereafter, she was raped, which left her devastated. On top of that, her mother was a substance abuser and her father was incarcerated.

“I didn’t blame anybody for my problems. I knew what I was doing,” said Stevenson, who was raised by her grandmother. “I put my trust in him (the baby’s father). But he didn’t hang around. I was vulnerable at the time.”

People started looking at her differently, being judgmental, she said. “I lost a lot of friends. A lot of family members started looking at me in disgust.”

Stevenson dropped out in the 11th grade and was pregnant again by another man. At 18, she moved back to her hometown and back again to Memphis when she was 21. She persevered, earning her GED, the equivalent of a high school diploma.

Stevenson is 23 years old now and has three children – Baija Miller, 8, Dyuana Stevenson, 6, and Ephan Eubanks, 1. She and the children live in Bartlett with Ephan’s father.

Two weeks ago, Stevenson lost her job. Undaunted, she is pressing on, studying to become a physical therapist at Southwest Tennessee Community College.

Akilah Wofford

Wofford and Stevenson were classmates from the 6th-grade at Brookmeade Elementary until they matriculated together at Trezevant. She also played basketball on the team at the point guard position.

After graduating in 2008, Wofford went to Tennessee State University, majoring in communications. She left in 2011 and enrolled at the University of Memphis, this time studying journalism with a minor in communications.

“I got pregnant at 23,” said Wofford, who once considered having an abortion before deciding to go through with the pregnancy. She still has a relationship with the baby-to-be’s father.

Nearly six months pregnant now, Wofford laments the fact that she got pregnant. Her mother died three years ago and she wishes her father could be there for the birth of her child, but he died in June before Wofford learned she was pregnant.

“He raised me,” Wofford said, noting that he was an 85-year-old doting father. “Three years ago I lost my mom, who was a drug addict. So I’m bringing a child in the world without grandparents.”

Wofford does have a godmother, Phyllis Thomas, whom she regards highly. Thomas, said Wofford, will step in to fill the role of a grandmother. But family, she noted, hasn’t been there to support her, “particularly on my mother’s side.”

Reflecting on her father’s love and the circumstances of her pregnancy, Wofford said, “I will persevere.


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