- - Wednesday, December 26, 2012

ORLANDO, Fla. — A faint cry.

That’s all Vinise Capers heard when she returned home that day. By the time she found her baby son, Daishawn, it was almost too late.

Daishawn was laying behind a bed with a pile of blankets heaped on top of him, covering his face. The lives of Capers and her four children were forever changed.

Daishawn was back there taking his last breath,” Capers said. “Pretty devastating. His journey since then has been very difficult for him and, for us, difficult to watch.”

Vinise had left Daishawn with his father, who left him alone with a young cousin. How the baby ended up behind the bed, smothered by covers is unclear. But that’s where Vinise found him, his brain deprived of oxygen for an unknown period of time.

Daishawn spent 30 days in a coma. He survived, but is severely disabled. Now 22, he is in a wheelchair, can’t use one arm, is legally blind and struggles cognitively.

“When I found him, he was clinically dead,” Capers said. “They didn’t expect him to live.”

Kyshoen Jarrett had yet to be born when Daishawn had his accident at the family’s home in Staten Island, N.Y.

When Capers divorced Jarrett’s father, she and her four sons moved to Tannersville, Pa. Jarrett was five years old.

As he grew up, Jarrett, now a sophomore safety on the Virginia Tech football team, was instilled with one value above all others: Family takes care of family.

Jarrett’s father never was in the picture. Neither was the father of Charles, Charod and Daishawn Capers, his three half-brothers.

Vinise worked full-time as a teacher while raising four boys, including seriously handicapped Daishawn. So Charles played the role of father — or ‘Pops’ as Kyshoen calls him — to his younger siblings.

When he was old enough, Kyshoen helped his family care for Daishawn.

“For me, helping take care of him was never an issue,” Kyshoen, now 19, said. “I learned that from my brothers.”

After his brothers finished high school and left home, Kyshoen took over the task of assisting his mother with caring for Daishawn. He’d get up an hour early before school to help bathe, dress and feed Daishawn, a chore that became more cumbersome as Daishawn got older and bigger.

And with Kyshoen growing increasingly busy with high school and football, Vinise considered moving Daishawn to a full-time care facility.

Kyshoen rejected the idea.

“He said to me, without any hesitation, ‘Don’t you dare. If you send my brother away, our family will never be the same,’” Vinise said

After all, their family is built on taking care of each other.

Charles Capers, now 27 with two children of his own, never viewed helping to raise his brothers as a burden.

“I was just doing what I felt I was supposed to do,” he said. “I don’t have a dad either, so I knew the kind of things (Kyshoen) was feeling. Just growing up as a man, I didn’t want to leave him out there trying to figure things out like I had to.”

Vinise said the adversity helped create the tight bond that she shares with her sons, and them with each other.

“We’re a team as a family,” she said.

That team has learned and improved. Charod was a talented basketball player, but Vinise and Charles said they didn’t understand how to properly support a blossoming young athlete in his prime.

With Kyshoen, the family was determined to get it right. They were regulars at his football games. His brothers took him to football camps, often paying out of their own pockets so he could attend and improve his skills.

Charod transferred to a community college closer to Tannersville to help support Kyshoen as he grew into a college prospect.

“It made us real tight,” Kyshoen said. “We’ll fight like brothers, but at the end of the day, we learn from each other. Me and Charod, we learned from Charles being the oldest brother. He had to take the ‘I’m the man of the house’ role. He grew up faster than all of us put together.”

But Daishawn’s condition forced all of Capers‘ boys to mature ahead of schedule.

Charles said it’s hard not to think about what Daishawn’s life would be like if he hadn’t had his accident. Daishawn now is living in Raleigh, N.C., where his mother moved to be closer to Kyshoen.

At home, Vinise turns up the volume extra loud on the television so Daishawn can feel like he’s at Kyshoen’s games.

This season, Daishawn attended the Hokies’ season-opener against Georgia Tech, an experience the whole family relished.

“We know he’s supposed to be having a regular life,” Charles said. “He should be playing football or basketball right now.”

Instead, it’s Kyshoen playing football.

This year, Kyshoen’s father, Shoen Jarrett, resurfaced in his son’s life. He asked Kyshoen for tickets to the Hokies’ next-to-last regular season game at Boston College, and Jarrett sent them to him.

Despite an obvious apprehension about Shoen Jarrett’s return, Charles invited Shoen — who could not be reached for this article — to sit with him during that game, making it easier for Kyshoen to spot him in the crowd.

Kyshoen said he’s open to having some form of relationship with his father now, but it will take some work.

One thing is clear, his father won’t replace his brothers and the role they’ve played in his life.

“It’s pretty scarred right now,” Kyshoen said of his relationship with his father. “Pretty much my two oldest brothers, they raised me as a man. And I don’t regret that.”

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