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This football player left college early for the NFL to support his homeless mom

Peyton Barber dives in for Auburn's game-winning touchdown in overtime
Auburn University

NFL hopefuls are at the scouting combine to show off their abilities ahead of the Draft. Many of the players are soon-to-be graduates and upperclassmen who proved their capabilities on the field. Among that group of potential professional football players is former Auburn running back Peyton Barber, and he is different than many of his fellow NFL hopefuls.

Unlike may of the others, he left college with two years of eligibility left (early in Football). Barber ran for more than 1,000 yards last season for one of the best teams playing in one of the toughest conferences. Waiting another year would have greatly improved Barber's draft position, especially given all the high-talent upper classmen who also declared for the draft. But Barber had other things to consider - like his family.

"My mother is homeless right now," Barber said, during a combine press conference. "Right now, she's staying with her sister. It's her and her three kids staying in an apartment back home."

More than 600,000 people across the US experience homelessness on any given night. Some people live on the streets, others stay in shelters, and some, like Barber's mother Lori, stay with family. For the majority of people, it is a temporary situation. Much like Americans living in poverty, things are fluid. There are stretches where there is enough money to meet basic needs and times when there is not.

"Homelessness is a strong definition," Lori Barber told AL.com. "Do I have a home of my own? I do not. Do I have a bed of my own? I don't. Where we're living is a little crowded, but we're making it work. We're taking our 50 cents and stretching it out to make it a dollar."

Poverty also forces family members to step up and find ways to financially contribute. At the extreme, it is why child labor and sweatshops are prevalent problem in developing countries. Education is one of the sacrifices that children make in order to help out when families need all the help they can get to have a home and food on the table each night.

Lori Barber used to work at the special education department for a local school. A series of car accidents left her on disability and unable to work. She calls herself a "survivor" and made clear that she did not pressure her son to join the NFL. He confirmed that, but said that his family's situation was what drove him to enter the draft.

In the case of Peyton Barber, it means forgoing the last two years of college. He is projected as a mid-round pick in the upcoming draft, but there is no certainty that he will make it in the NFL. Circumstances out of his control compel him to act in the short term interests of his family. Universities do not provide paychecks to families. So the NFL is the best option. 

"I'm definitely going to set my mom up and help her out, but at the same time I'm going to invest my money in something smart and save," he said to AL.com.