When Ty’Von Murriel started his freshman year at Denfeld High School, he had a group of friends from North Star Academy he was close with. Unfortunately, they started going down the wrong path by getting involved with drugs and Murriel said he had to distance himself from them.

“It was crazy because we went everywhere together,” he said. “We tried to be like that in high school, but they just drifted away. It’s kind of sad because we were so close, but you have to grow up.”

After he lost his friends from middle school, Murriel’s shyness made it hard for him to make new ones. His shyness even prevented him from participating in sports sooner in his high school years, which he said he regrets.

But Murriel said once he joined the University of Minnesota Duluth's Upward Bound program, which provides motivation and post-secondary preparatory support to area high school students, he began making more friends and that brought him out of his shell.

“By the end of sophomore year, I had so many friends that I wasn’t shy anymore,” Murriel said.

One of those friends was a senior in high school.

“When I joined Upward Bound, I met this kid named Chez, and he’s just a big social media guy and wants to be an actor when he grows up,” Murriel said. “He always invited me to hang out with him, so I got more friends through him.”

By his senior year, Murriel said he had grown out of his shyness and was participating in football, track and basketball.

Murriel even hopes to continue playing basketball next fall at St. Scholastica.

“I’ve been playing basketball since I was little,” Murriel said. “It’s been one of my favorite sports, I think, because my older brother used to play basketball and I looked up to him so much."

When Murriel’s family first moved to Duluth about 11 years ago, he was in a youth basketball program at Scholastica and that’s when his dream of playing there blossomed.

“I remember saying in that gym that I was going to play there someday,” Murriel said. “Once the integration specialist (at Denfeld) told me I could apply there, I realized that I could make that dream a reality.”

Murriel said he’s not quite sure what he wants to study in college, but he does have some ideas.

“On my free time, I like daydreaming about movies that could be. So I think I would like trying to write a movie or script,” Murriel said. “I also like being active, so maybe being an athletic trainer would be fun.”

Murriel is graduating with 198 other seniors from Denfeld Thursday night. And what was his favorite part about being a Hunter?

“It would have to be the spirit days,” he said. “There’s just so much school spirit and it was really fun being a part of that.”

Oh, and, of course, the rivalry against East High School as well.

This is the first of a series of stories highlighting local graduates from the Twin Ports area.