In 2011, the Boston Globe’s Billy Baker wrote a story on Johnny and George Huynh– two impoverished teenage brothers who spent every day dreaming of better circumstances.
Baker delved deep into the lives of these brothers and discovered that their abusive father committed suicide leaving their mother to spend her days locked up in her room, succumbing to her mental health issues.
The boys supported themselves and had to work to afford basic necessities. Despite these adversaries, the story highlights the boys’ unyielding passion for academics. Though they had to take the bus to get there, the boys attended a prestigious Boston high school and achieved top grades. This gave them a tiny ray of hope that things could change.
“I just want to fit in,’’ Johnny told Baker. “I’m tired of being known as that poor kid who is struggling.’’
The story goes on to describe the boys giving a emotional speech for the Catholic Charity which often helped them when they were in need.
The first half of their speech is jokey, a back-and-forth about who is taller, who is smarter, culminating with a story of the time their mother received a turkey from Catholic Charities. She didn’t know what to do with it so she stuffed it with noodles. The crowd laughs.
Things are going well; their delivery is better than in rehearsals. Then they get to the second half of the speech, the part about their father’s death.
First, George tells the story of that night when the police came to the door, carrying their father’s photo. Then Johnny picks up the story. “He was only 54,’’ he says. “He took his own life. And we didn’t have any money.’’
As he says the word “money,’’ Johnny cracks. He tries to push on, but the words won’t come out of his throat.
After bringing the audience to tears, Johnny concluded the speech by saying, “There are times when we all need to depend on the kindness of strangers.”
And then the story finishes and readers are left hoping that the two boys really do find a way to turn their lives around. Fast-forward a couple of years and it turns out that their story isn’t done after all. A few days ago, Baker began tweeting about the brothers. As it turns out, Baker was touched by the story and let the boys into his own life.
His tweets may very well melt your heart.