Mother & Son Finish College Together After Tough Times, Losing Their Home, Beating Cancer

April 30, 2019 Updated: May 6, 2019

Most young adults don’t dream of walking across the stage at their college graduation with their mothers.

For 25-year-old Kenneth McCray II, though, the fact that he and his 51-year-old mother both managed to get their diplomas in hand wasn’t something to scoff at. For them, it was a dream come true—and getting to experience it together highlighted just how much they’d worked together to overcome.

Patricia Love Davis sat for her commencement exercises at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida, at age 51, awaiting her chance to walk across the stage for Broward College to receive her associate’s degree.

Sitting right next to her was McCray, whom she raised on her own from the time he was 6 following his father’s death.

Posted by Kenneth A. Mccray II on Tuesday, May 8, 2018

That alone would be difficult for a mother, but their circumstances were far from simple. Three years after losing her partner in raising a child, Davis was diagnosed with a rare form of lymphoma, falling into a coma at one point during her aggressive chemotherapy treatment. She had to beat cancer, then re-learn how to walk and talk, all while hoping that her then-9-year-old son was still being well taken care of.

Their circumstances were so dire at one point that they lost their home. In 2012, Davis was laid off when her department at work was shuttered, leaving the 18-year-old McCray forced to put off his college plans for the time being and head home to help support his mother. At that point, their money had dried up—and though they eventually got back on their feet, they found themselves without a home of their own for a period of time.

To ALL my family, friends and Facebook public I would like to ask you to pockets and help with a giving heart. Although…

Posted by Pat Love on Thursday, November 24, 2016

Through it all, though—from death to illness to McCray learning how to take care of his mother—the mother-son duo stuck together. And when Kenneth went back to school to get his associate’s degree in computer science, his mother decided that it was time to check something off of her own bucket list; after 25 years of working in law enforcement herself, she decided to get her associate’s in criminal justice.

It seems almost impossible to believe that the pair could have weathered so much, especially looking at how far they’ve come. But Davis credits her family for teaching her resiliency and faith, both of which got them through even the toughest of years.

Mother and son overcome life's challenges and graduate college together

TWICE AS SWEET: On this Mother's Day weekend, mom Patricia Love Davis and son Kenneth McCray beating life's challenges to celebrate a major moment — graduating from college side by side. Tom Llamas on their comeback.

Posted by ABC World News Tonight with David Muir on Sunday, May 13, 2018

“Two things my parents and grandparents instilled in me. God will never put you through more than you can handle and this too shall pass,” said Davis, via CBS Miami.

Now that they have a pair of two-year degrees under their belts, the dynamic duo will be moving together to Central Florida. But while McCray’s education is far from over—he’s heading to school to get his bachelor’s in computer science now that he has an associate’s degree—Davis plans to take a little break and revel in being 12 years cancer-free.

All in all, having his mother by his side through another stepping stone in life seems almost natural.

“It’s been pretty hard these past few years but it’s been harder for her. I’m happy she’s with me and graduating with me,” he explained.