Trent Thomas scores on the court, and in life

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MILWAUKEE -- Trent Thomas grew up in a poor, struggling, single-parent household in Milwaukee. But the love of a hard-working and devoted mother, a talent for playing basketball, and a coach who went beyond the game, helped turn Thomas into a success story and a role model.

Thomas is a Milwaukee native who returned home recently to play in the Fresh Coast Classic. He's a senior on a full basketball scholarship at St. Leo University outside of Tampa, Florida. In 2011, Thomas was first-time, all-conference and led the Lions in scoring.

But life wasn't always this smooth for Thomas. In fact, his formative years were the worst of his life. His father died suddenly when he was just 12 years old. To deal with the hurt, pain and frustration, Thomas turned to basketball.

As a 7th grader, he played on an AAU team led by current Vincent High School coach Marcus Hines. Hines was a raw talent. At first, it took time for Thomas' hoops dreams and his relationship with Hines to blossom.

Because he saw something special in Thomas, Hines used the tough love approach to bring his talent to the surface. Today, Thomas and Hines have forged a special relationship; one that goes way beyond the player and former coach.

Thomas hopes to get a shot at playing in the NBA or overseas some day. He has added motivation to succeed; a loving mother who's always been there for him.