By Frederick Melo | firstname.lastname@example.org
Most Olympic athletes have proud, hopeful moms behind them, but Olympic sprinter Emmanuel Matadi’s mother is prouder and more hopeful than most. She’s had to hold her head up a little higher since an electrical fire burned through the family’s St. Paul residence in the summer of 2013, leaving her homeless.
“I don’t know how to beg,” Florence Matadi said Thursday, chuckling as she stood outside her gutted home on Arkwright Street. She lists reasons she’s grateful, including her three grown kids and good health. “You know the man upstairs, he’s good all the time — Lord of Lords, King of Kings!”
Since the fire, she’s mostly lived in and out of her car, which she recently sold. A few weeks ago, after finding her dozing outside her boarded-up residence, three St. Paul police officers forced the 58-year-old grandmother from her vehicle with Tasers drawn, handcuffed her and put her in the back of a squad car for an hour, she said. One of them later apologized.
Matadi, a former house cleaner, declined Thursday to describe where she sleeps most nights, out of embarrassment. (“When you’re homeless,” she said, “you don’t want to stay in one place for long.”) She obtained an undergraduate degree in social work from St. Catherine University in 2014 but has yet to find a job. Aside from her East Side home — which is now an official registered vacant building with the city — she no longer owns much. What she does have is a heart full of hope that she can yet cobble enough money together to make it to Rio de Janeiro and see her son, representing his native Liberia, compete in the 100-meter and 200-meter dash — an improbable dream, considering that elimination trials begin Saturday. READ MORE OF THIS STORY
SOURCES: NewsNow/Twin Cities online