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Off Central: Phoenix-area kid beats odds after unthinkable attack

(Corbin Carson/KTAR News)

This is the story of a boy that rallied from an unthinkable attack and the woman who guided him.

“I like football, I like track,” said Ilian Roberts, a 17-year-old senior at Deer Valley High School. “Recently I’ve been admitted into a nursing program at our school.”

Cathy Roberts is Ilian’s adoptive mom.

“He’s always making people laugh, he’s the one on the sidelines, dancing and keeping the team going,” she said.

“You can ask people at my school how goofy, proactive and boisterous I am,” Ilian said.

Right years ago, however, Ilian was a different kid, facing a challenge no child should have to face.

“[Illian’s biological mother] stabbed me three times, I turned around and tried running back for the door and she sliced me,” he said. “I fell to the floor, because I couldn’t move anymore.

“I thought I was just going to die.”

That night on Aug. 8, 2008, Ilian was told to do the dishes as a punishment. Cathy said it was his first time, and he accidently flooded the kitchen.

“[She] got mad and she punched him in the face,” she said. “He had three stab wounds in his back, from where she had stabbed him, I think with a steak knife or something.”

Ilian said he had spent the first eight years of his life dealing with this abuse, and living on the streets of south Phoenix. He decided enough was enough and snuck out early the next morning.

“The last thing my mom told me is that she would find me and kill me,” he said.

Ilian was taken to a hospital, treated and CPS was brought in and they called Cathy to help with foster care.

“I walked in there and said, do you want to go home with me?” she said. “He told me ‘yes,’ and he’s been mine ever since.”

Now, eight years later, Ilian is an honor student and star football player at Deer Valley High School. In track, he took first place in the 200 meters at the state competition. He’s also been accepted into NAU and wants to continue his focus on pediatric nursing.

The thoughts still come, however, as to what could have happened if things had gone differently.

“He says ‘you know mom, if I was still living there, I’d be a crackhead,’” Cathy said. “I said ‘I know.’”

Ilian said he probably would have died.

“I could have been in a gang, I could have died from a drug overdose, I could have been an addict,” he said. “My life wouldn’t be good.”

And now, what can he be?

“Anything I want to, as long as I put my mind to it,” Ilian said.