INDIANAPOLIS | The odds are stacked against him. The numbers give a hard lesson about teen parenthood. But that doesn't keep E.C. Central senior point guard Jeremiah Ochoa's head down.
He proudly displayed the tattoo of his 1-year-old daughter, Ja Miya, on his arm after the Cardinals beat Indianapolis Shortridge, 58-41, on Monday at Indianapolis Marshall.
"She turned 1 on Dec. 9," Ochoa said. "I spend all the time that I can with her. She's my world. But with school and practice and games it's hard. It's very difficult."
The grandparents help out Ochoa and the girl's mother, Aisha Ellison. But the struggles remain. According to dosomething.org, teen pregnancy is the leading reason girls drop out of school and more than half of the girls never graduate.
Less than 2 percent of teen mothers earn a college degree by age 30. Eighty percent of teen dads don't marry the mother of their child.
"This is my first child," Ochoa said. "I didn't know what to expect."
Hard work and overcoming long odds is nothing new to the 6-foot-1 point guard. While he played a lot of minutes last season for E.C., he was easily not noticed.
Surrounded by a large amount of talent, Ochoa was often overshadowed.
"Not any more," E.C. coach Abe Brown said on Monday.
A desire to improve led Ochoa into the weight room much of last summer. He worked hard to gain strength. It has worked. He is not a traditional point guard. He's a point with a power forward's mentality.
"Jeremiah gives us everything we need at the point, and so much more," Brown said. "Last summer he told me he was going to average 10 rebounds a game and he's right there. He has really focused on rebounding and taking the ball to the rim.
"He's a great point guard."
Today, E.C. (5-3) will play Indianapolis North Central (0-4) in the North Central Holiday Tournament semifinal. So far, the Cards are undefeated (2-0) in the Indianapolis area this season, beating Bloomington South and Shortridge.
While North Central has yet to win, it is a very good program that has lost some close games to dominant teams. Warren Central and Fishers is on the other side of the bracket.
"We like playing down here," Brown said on Monday. "We'd like to get back here again."
The upgrade in Ochoa's game and his new-found life growth has changed the way E.C. is playing. Depth and athleticism is the engine of this machine. Ochoa's hands are on the steering wheel.
"I knew I had to work on my ball-handling and attacking the glass," Ochoa said. "I knew I had to rebound the ball and help my team. So far that's going pretty good."