CHARLOTTE — Chancellor Lee Adams has had to work harder than most.
As a baby, he survived a murder attempt orchestrated by his father, former NFL player Rae Carruth, that killed his mother, Cherica.
Now, he’s graduating from high school. And by his side will be his biggest supporter, Saundra Adams, his grandmother who’s cared for him since birth.
“I will be cheering and being loud,” Saundra said. “I have seen this day from the day that he graduated from kindergarten ... I still have his photos from kindergarten graduation, with his white gown and white cap.”
Escorted by his teacher, Chancellor Lee will join hundreds of other students awarded diplomas from Vance High School.
More Chancellor Lee Adams coverage:
- ‘She just had a fire’: Family, friends celebrate 20th anniversary of Cherica Adams’ ‘transition’
- Rae Carruth sends son money after being released from prison
- ‘Can’t even control the smile’: Chancellor Lee Adams visits London with Panthers
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“One thing he does not want is to use a walker,” Saundra told Channel9 anchor Erica Bryant. “He wants to walk across the stage.”
Chancellor Lee also completed a 2-year program at Vance focused on transitioning to independent living. Courses made even more challenging as he had to learn virtually during the pandemic.
(WATCH: Chancellor Lee Adams continues virtual learning as other exceptional students return to class)
“It was mostly finances, community-based living and transportation, and how to maneuver in the community,” Saundra explained.
She told Channel 9 that she believes there are no limits to what’s next for her grandson.
“We still may have another graduation ... because Lee is on the A/B Honor Roll and I think he’s determined that he can go ahead and even go to college if he wanted to,” Saundra said.
The topic of Chancellor Lee’s father also came up.
“Ms. Adams, I have to ask you about Rae Carruth, and if you’ve heard from him in this magical time,” Erica asked Saundra.
“No, we haven’t heard from Rae,” she answered. “The last time we heard from him, it was a very good communication.”
(WATCH: Rae Carruth sends son money after being released from prison)
Saundra said that communication meant a lot. It was indirect, but monumental -- in December of 2019, Carruth sent a monetary gift to Lee through the court system. With no way to contact him, Saundra said she’s not sure if he’s even aware of his son’s milestone.
“He’s not familiar with the school setting and how the children go through the transitional program so, just looking at chronological age, he may think that Lee had already graduated,” Saundra said.
Related Rae Carruth coverage:
- RAE CARRUTH STORY EXCLUSIVE: “I just truly want to be forgiven”
- Rae Carruth’s attorney shares new details about death of Cherica Adams
- Lead prosecutor breaks down strategy used to convict Rae Carruth
- RAE CARRUTH CASE: Chancellor Lee Adams making strides ahead of father’s release
- 15 years later: Rae Carruth’s teenage son
She told Erica that she hopes Carruth sees this story so he will know and take pride in his son’s high school graduation.
“It does take a village and Rae is his father,” Saundra said. “The door is open for communication between us because we really would like that.”
While Chancellor Lee’s remarkable story of forgiveness and triumph over tragedy has been covered across the country and the world, Saundra said it’s the people here at home that they appreciate the most.
“Opening arms and embracing us the way they have and praying for us and wishing us well, and I just want to say a big ‘Thank you’ because this is not a milestone that I did by myself -- it was our village,” she told Channel 9.
Chancellor Lee’s graduation ceremony is on Saturday, June 5 at Bojangles Coliseum.
(WATCH: Saundra Adams receives special honor for helping domestic violence victims)
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