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Posted on Mon, Feb 18, 2013 : 12:26 p.m.

Eastern Michigan runner Latipha Cross doesn't let sexual abuse, cancer or homelessness slow her down

By Pete Cunningham


Eastern Michigan freshman Latipha Cross, right, hands off a relay baton to Lesha Hardiman in the 4x400-meter relay at the EMU Triangular on Jan. 11.

Photo courtesy of Eastern Michigan University athletics

Eastern Michigan freshman runner Latipha Cross recently told ESPN about the adversity she had to overcome before ending up in Ypsilanti.

Cross told ESPN about how she was abandoned shortly after birth, later abused by foster parents, then lived on the streets of Detroit to escape the abuse. She was eventually "saved" by her biological father, who turned out to be no savior at all as he later beat her and sexually assaulted her.

"My greatest fear was dying out here," Cross told ESPN. "I never thought college was a possibility."

On top of everything else Cross has battled two types of cancer over the past two years: lymphoma and melanoma.

Cross's speed has opened up a world of opportunity for her. At Southfield High School, Cross set a state record in the 400-meter dash as a junior in 2011, catching Ypsilanti High School's Dynasty McGee at the finish line, and as a senior finished in second behind Huron High School's Maya Long. She earned a full-ride scholarship to Eastern, where she is currently enrolled and competing with hopes to eventually become a social worker.

"All I gotta do is run for you and wear an Eastern shirt? That's the best deal in the world," Cross told ESPN. "The college is paying for me to become a social worker, and they're paying for something that I love, which is track. That scholarship means the world to me."

Watch the ESPN video:

Pete Cunningham covers sports for He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @petcunningham.


Pete Cunningham

Tue, Feb 19, 2013 : 6:37 p.m.

A lot of local ties to this story. In the 2011 state finals, Latipha caught Ypsilanti alumnus Dynasty McGee at the finish line in the 400 final. McGee had won the event in 2009, now runs for Penn State and was always a great quote. After the race McGee said, ""I'm not even upset about that...If you beat me with a state record, kudos to you. Good job, girl. Two thumbs up." Last season, Latipha was kept from defending her title by Huron alumnus Maya Long, who is now enrolled at Michigan. Long had quite an inspiring story herself, running nearly a year to the day after her father shot her mother and killed himself days before the 2011 finals, at which Maya finished third behind Latipha and Dynasty.


Tue, Feb 19, 2013 : 3:27 a.m.



Tue, Feb 19, 2013 : 1:47 a.m.

Can we say Olympics? Dreams do come from this sort of stuff. I love the expressions on their faces.


Mon, Feb 18, 2013 : 11:48 p.m.

My husband anf I actually caught the story on ESPN yesterday. She is truly a remarkable young lady w ho has been through so much in her life to this point. I hope she stays true to her goals in life!


Mon, Feb 18, 2013 : 10:08 p.m.

In the video she says, "then I realized that I deserve this..." Yes, Ms Cross, you do deserve it!! I wish you the best at EMU! I had tears in my eyes watching the video.


Mon, Feb 18, 2013 : 7:02 p.m.

Saw Latipha run this past Saturday at UM - Great Job! Track is a wonderful sport - lots of good people involved. Latipha is truly a winner - all around. You go girl!!

Lisa D

Mon, Feb 18, 2013 : 6:35 p.m.

What an extraordinary, brave and beautiful young woman! Thank you for sharing this story and posting this touching video! You deserve all happiness and love, Latipha and are an inspiring role model! Lisa Dengiz

Katrease Stafford

Mon, Feb 18, 2013 : 6:21 p.m.

This is a wonderful story. Thanks for sharing it, Pete!