HIGHLAND PARK — Prince Dorbah exudes positivity for his future at Texas because the four-star defender has lived through a torrid past.
The Texas signee was torn from his home in Cote d’Ivoire, an African nation divided by civil war, when he was three along with his older brother, Junior. Their mother died from an illness. Their father disappeared.
The brothers relocated to Texas, settling in Dallas where they lived in a three-bedroom apartment with their aunt and four other boys. Fate intervened when Dorbah was in the seventh grade.
He became close friends with a classmate named Tyler Kilgus. Soon, Dorbah starting spending weekends at the Kilgus home. Eventually, he never left.
The family adopted Dorbah and he moved into their home in Highland Park.
“The Kilgus family changed my life forever,” Dorbah said. “I wouldn’t be in the situation to play football at Texas and improve my life like this without the love and support of God and family. They didn’t have to bring me in after raising four boys of their own, but they did, and that’s true love.”
The Kilgus family is active in their church, which has led them to participate in charitable events for African refugees. Dorbah, who also is dyslexic, was still in elementary school when they first met; they were grilling burgers and hot dogs for a church event. When he became part of the family, he was a scrawny middle schooler focused on playing basketball.
“The goal was never to adopt Prince. It just happened organically,” Alphie Kilgus said. “Most young people simply need direction and support. Prince was no different. We made it official when he was a sophomore. He was always there and his aunt had her hands full.”
Dorbah blossomed as a football player, becoming the state’s premier pass rusher. He still plays basketball, but football became his focus after a 10-sack sophomore season that ended with District 15-5A defensive newcomer of the year honors and a Class 5A Division I state championship. He added 20 sacks and another state title as a junior.
The offers poured in. Dorbah committed to Texas in July and signed in December. The 6-2, 208-pound defender played defensive end at Highland Park. He’s likely destined for linebacker at Texas, which is where he played at the recent All-American Bowl in San Antonio alongside fellow UT signees Bijan Robinson, Andrej Karic and Xavion Alford.
“This whole process was incredible for me,” Dorbah said. “I was just a poor kid in Africa and now I’m playing in all-star games, winning state titles and heading to a dream university to play sports.
“I know I can handle the challenges in front of me because I’ve handled far tougher challenges in my life. The struggles make you stronger. Life is about mentality, and I want to use my God-given ability to improve my life and help others.”
The adoption not only changed Prince’s life. Kilgus said his family learned more from Dorbah and his ability to overcome hardships.
“He’s just a positive kid. I can count the number of bad days he’s had since I’ve known him,” Kilgus said. “He’s opened our eyes to a whole different world and culture. The goal of any parent is to offer their kids a bigger world. We could do that for Prince and Junior.”
The family doesn’t want accolades or awards. It never adopted Dorbah for a pat on the back. This isn’t a movie starring Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw. This was a life-long decision based on love, and the only hope for them is that more people become parent figures for young people without that blessing.
“My advice is to just go out there and get involved,” Kilgus said. “It doesn’t need to be an adoption, but go be a mentor or a father figure to these young people. Take them to a football practice or help with some homework. Not only will it help the young people, but it helps the person who is giving grow and learn about other cultures and backgrounds.”
Love is important to Dorbah. He cherishes bonds. That’s why Texas earned his national letter of intent.
“Texas was always on me and showing me how much they cared,” he said. “It wasn’t just football. It was life. It’s a great school with great people and I can’t wait to be there in the summer.”