Grit, resolve carry Northern Kentucky's Harris in hard times

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FILE - In this Nov. 10, 2017, file photo, Northern Arizona guard Karl Harris drives on Arizona guard Allonzo Trier (35) during the first half during an NCAA college basketball game in Tucson, Ariz. Another dream, of playing in the NCAA Tournament, became a reality when Northern Kentucky clinched the Horizon League tournament title in March. Mere hours later, it was snatched away by a pandemic spiderwebbing across the globe. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri, FIle)

The image Karl Harris has of his father is painted by old photos and the stories his brothers tell.

His older brother, both best friend and basketball running mate, was gunned down in a case of mistaken identity. The train ride to school through Chicago's South Side delivered daily horrors: drugs, gang violence, death.

Every time life knocked him down, Harris shoved right back. He worked tirelessly to earn a Division I scholarship, walked across the stage as his family's first male college graduate.

Another dream, of playing in the NCAA Tournament, became a reality when Northern Kentucky clinched the Horizon League tournament title in March.

Less than two days later, it was snatched away by a pandemic spiderwebbing the globe.

Down again, Harris clawed his way back up, set his focus on the next goal.

“He's been through some stuff and things haven't always worked out the way he wanted to, but he kept coming back and kept going,” Northern Kentucky coach Darrin Horn said. “He's still tried to find a way to make things better and still get to where he wants to go. He just has a great humility and appreciation about himself.”

A resolute spirit and supporting family prevented Harris from taking a divergent path.