If you asked Carrboro senior linebacker Sirr Ku Thart three years ago about his plans after high school, he wouldn’t have had an answer. Now, by discovering discipline through football, he has found his way.
“When I was a kid I never dreamed about much, about what I would become,” Thart said. “Did I want to go to college or not or what I was planning after high school. Now, doing football, I think about the future.”
Thart’s family came to the United States from Thailand after leaving the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, also known as Burma. They fled Burma in the wake of violence and human rights violations. Dump trucks full of dead bodies being dumped in the river is one of Thart’s childhood memories.
Conditions improved in Thailand, but he was separated from his parents for the majority of the time because they had to find work. Many of the other children he met there were without their parents, and many were homeless.
“Every time my parents did something, they risked their lives,” Thart said.
Thart tried to emulate his parents’ survivalist lifestyle when he was a child. In the process, he once was stabbed in the right eye by a bamboo stalk while he searched for food. The injury left him with some distance vision impairment, but he knows it could have been much worse.
“I still thank God because I could have died right there,” Thart said. “Without Him I would throw my life away.”
He was finally able to live with his family on a consistent basis when they arrived in the United States .
Before coming to North Carolina, where his parents work at the University of North Carolina, Thart was a struggling student in Texas. He did not have a firm grasp on English.
One of his friends was a football player who also was a good student. Thart decided to join the football team.
“At one time I asked myself, ‘What makes them keep studying and making a good grade?’” Thart said. “One day, I followed them to football. I saw one of the guys who was in my class and he got a bad grade. So I saw him doing burpees (an exercise involving squatting and kicking back). They wanted him to improve on what he did. So I started to join because I wanted to become a better man.”
He also wanted the world to see him as a better man.
Carrboro coach Jason Tudryn said Thart, a 5-foot-9, 175-pound outside linebacker, is one of the hardest-working members of the team.
“Last year we go to the state championship game and he’s our special teams guru,” Tudryn said. “He’s a guy that would fly down the field. He’s completely selfless, fearless. And he’s continued to grow.”
While Tudryn was giving Thart a ride to summer workouts, Thart told him his story.
“I said to Ku, ‘Wow, that’s hard,’” Tudryn said. “Immediately he shot back and said ‘No T, it’s not hard at all. It’s a blessing. If those things didn’t happen then I would never be here.’”
Thart has also become an honor student. While once his only goals were to find a meal and survive to see the next day, he hopes for more now. Thart said he will enlist in the military and become an engineer after graduation.