Backlash: Diddy's Son Gets $54,000 UCLA Football Scholarship

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Justin Combs, the 18-year-old son of hip-hop mogul Sean "Diddy" Combs, worked hard for the money and now he plans to attend UCLA in the fall on a $54,000 football scholarship.

Universities routinely use scholarships as a recruiting tool and Justin, a 5-foot-9, 175-pound defensive back from New Rochelle's Iona Prep, had competing offers from other Division I schools including Illinois, Iowa and Virginia, ESPN reported.

A lot of people reacted adversely to the fact that this kid is getting a full-ride to a prominent university. Especially given the fact that the scholarship, one of 285 UCLA hands out every year, comes at a time when UC student fees are rising and a year after the university had to use more than $2 million in student fees to cover an athletic department funding gap.

Justin could easily "walk on" and still play for the Pac 12 Bruins without the money  His 42-year old father is reportedly worth half a billion dollars so it seems like a no-brainer…Diddy should pay for his son's schooling. Or should he?

Apparently Justin received a Maybach worth more than $300,000 for his 16th birthday  - more than enough to pay for several college degrees. And that pisses a lot of people off.

“Regardless what the circumstances are, I put that work in!!!!” tweeted Justin. And he is correct - he worked diligently both in athletics and academics to receive the full scholarship. But does that mean he should go to college for free when so many others with equal or better grades struggle just to get a degree? What's the right thing to do?

"As a parent, today is one of the proudest moments of my life," Diddy said  after his son committed to UCLA. "This is everything a father could want for his son, for him to excel at what he loves to do and is truly passionate about. "

In response to the backlash, UCLA said the merit-based athletic scholarship was separate from the school's need-based financial aid program and didn't include a dime of taxpayer funds.

"There's a misconception out there that somehow athletic scholarships would take away money from low-income students who need need-based aid," school spokesman Ricardo Vazquez said. "That's not the case. Athletic scholarships are awarded strictly on the basis of athletic and academic ability."

After the media buzz surrounding the story hit, Justin’s mother, Misa Hylton, took to Twitter to reject the notion that her son didn’t earn his scholarship. 

My Son is his own man. He will earn his own way through life. I’m so proud of my baby ? it starts now! He is exactly the young man I raised him to be ? #independent #hardworking #intelligent

Obviously Justin doesn't qualify for need-based aid. But should he have accepted the four-year, $54,000 merit scholarship? Everyone seems to have an opinion. Should he give it up? Should he donate it? Should his father make a donation in an equal amount?
 
It is a lot of pressure for a kid to deal with, especially since the controversy is so tied to his race and wealth. Would there be as much backlash if he was the son of a rich white CEO who earned a full ride?
 
Whatever Justin does decide to do, he should be lauded for his accomplishments. He was focused enough to earn a 3.75 GPA while being a star on his high school football team. He could have just as easily been sidetracked - by access to a lavish lifestyle and a lot of attitude - among other things. So while you may not agree that he deserves the money, please don't take away his achievements.
 
 


@jschonb
dare to dream
Also online at prettytough.com and womentalksports.com

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