It's a small wonder that Kenny Buckner is here.
Here in Idaho, here as a member of the Boise State men's basketball team, here two months away from graduating, maybe even here at all.
Buckner, a 6-foot-7, 250-pound forward, will be the lone senior honored Saturday at the Broncos' home finale against San Diego State (1:30 p.m., NBC Sports Network, 670 AM).
"Buck's been through a lot in his life, and to be such a great teammate, such a great friend, a college graduate, I'm just so proud of the progress he's made," Boise State coach Leon Rice said.
Growing up in Washington, D.C., Buckner was dealt a difficult hand almost immediately - his mother was shot and killed when he was 3 years old, and his father was killed when he was 15.
Raised by his headstrong grandmother since he was a toddler, Buckner credits her for keeping him on a good path. His biggest fan, who has struggled with health issues in recent years, won't be at Taco Bell Arena on Saturday night, but Buckner said she'll be "here in spirit."
"She's everything to me," Buckner said. "It was rough growing up. We had to go through a lot, and I'm lucky to have the chances I've had to stay away from those streets."
It was baseball, not basketball, that pulled Buckner out of D.C. He briefly attended a junior college in Maryland to play baseball, but returned to help take care of his grandmother. While playing in some rec league basketball games, Buckner caught the attention of a coach at a community college in Kansas.
Buckner redshirted at Garden City Community College in 2008-09, but was dismissed because of academics. He wound up at the College of Southern Idaho prior to coming to Boise State in 2011. Buckner said additional help from tutors, advisers, coaches and his grandmother turned things around.
"I had to put my head into it more, work a little harder," Buckner said. "Being around the type of people here has helped me grow, see things better."
After knowing some unimaginable tragedies, overcoming academic roadblocks and not ever playing high school basketball, Buckner will graduate in May after being a key forward for the Broncos the past two seasons.
In 55 games, Buckner has averaged 19.6 minutes, 6.9 points and 4.8 rebounds per contest. His career field goal percentage of 61.3 percent would be tied for fourth in school history, but he falls just shy of the five attempts per game cutoff.
"He'll be one we'll brag about (in the future) with his effort," Rice said. " he's a tough kid who does a great job of increasing our energy when he's out there."
From Washington, D.C., to Maryland, to Kansas, to Twin Falls and to Boise, Buckner's journey has been arduous, but it's one well worth it.
"It's a blessing, it feels great - not great being on this floor for the last time, but to have the opportunities I've had," Buckner said.
Dave Southorn: 377-6420, Twitter: @IDS_southorn