To say Tyrone Roberts has come a long way would be an understatement.
Here is a bloke who has faced countless setbacks throughout his young life, but managed to overcome them to reach the heights of the NRL as the Newcastle Knights star halfback.
It’s a resilience that’s given the playmaker the strength to fight no matter the circumstance and become a role model for his family and Aboriginal people.
For a guy constantly confronted by hardships growing up though, Roberts remains refreshingly happy.
In fact, casually chatting away after training this week, Roberts says he has never been more content.
You see, here is a footballer who understands how fortunate is to be living his lifelong dream.
It's a fact that's rammed home for Roberts training at the Knights' state-of-the-art facilities alongside lifelong idols like Danny Buderus, a Club legend who made his debut when Tyrone was just six-years old.
Talk to blokes like Buderus and they'll tell you Newcastle is now Roberts' team, a prospect the quietly-spoken half never thought possible as a kid surrounded by alcohol abuse in the local community growing up in Ballina on the NSW north coast.
It was a difficult environment that quite easily could have also captured Roberts, before he decided to leave his hometown for Newcastle as a 14-year-old.
"When you are sitting down and realise what you’ve done, it just hits you," reflects Roberts, who also lived in a refuge in Lismore as a youngster.
"I’m just loving life now, but it could have been so different.
"I'm just lucky I saw an opportunity to get away from all the alcohol when I was 14 and to move on to better things in Newcastle was one of those opportunities.
"Every time I go back home nothing changes and everyone is still drinking and doing the same stuff.
"It just shows how much I’ve changed and looking back now and reflecting, that was the best thing I’ve ever done.
"Now I’m reaping the benefits, I’m loving what I do and my family is benefiting at the same time."
So where does Roberts' resilience come from?
Talk to the man himself and he'll credit a number of factors from family through to his naturally determined ways.
Of all his influences though, Roberts nominates his four years at the Kirinari Aboriginal Hostel in Garden Suburb in Newcastle as the key to his focus and never-say-die-attitude.
"When I was at the hostel discipline and looking after yourself was the biggest thing," he explains.
"I was living with 14 other boys in the hostel and we got taught to make our beds every morning, wash our clothes and come home and do our study.
"I spent four years at the hostel and I’m grateful for that.
"It’s just all that discipline that a normal person needs and now I’ve now taken that into life."
With the support and guidance of the hostel, Roberts says he felt like he had the inner belief to defy any setback.
This was proven when he initially felt homesick living in Newcastle and seriously considered quitting.
"I was talking to mum almost every day," he recalls.
"I was just about ready to give it all away, but mum said I had to stay because nothing changes here.
"So I stuck in for another year and then it just got easier and easier."
It's a decision that has ended up being the right one for Roberts, who has gone on to not only become an NRL player but also inspiration for his people.
In fact, Tyrone is a perfect example that hard work combined with the right attitude will always pay off no matter how tough life becomes.
As much as Roberts has risen to these heights himself, the 22-year old says his parents John and Amy have also played a crucial role.
He has no doubts their devoted support throughout the years is a major reason why he has achieved so much at such a young age.
"Because growing up, if one family member was down we’d always support them," says Roberts, who is one of five children.
"We looked after each other when times got low and my family is the biggest thing in my life now.
"So I’ll never forget who I am and where I come from and now I can show others that they can do the same thing.
"It doesn’t always have to be the dark side of the track and there is light at the end of the tunnel."
It's advice Roberts now passes on to his family and friends back home in Ballina, hoping his personal story will encourage others to chase their dreams.
Just ask Tyrone's youngest brother Nikko, a guy who has also defied the past to go on and succeed just like his big brother.
"Nikko lives in Queensland and he has a daughter," Roberts says proudly.
"He is doing the same thing, providing opportunities for his family and himself.
"My three older sisters are living in Ballina, while mum and dad look after the grandkids and they babysit all the time.
"They’ve got seven grandkids now."
Asked if he was next in line for kids, Roberts laughed and said he wasn’t quite ready.
“Not yet,” he grins.
“They just keep asking me, but I just say when my future is on track I’ll settle down and have a kid.
“I just want to make sure I’m on the right track before I have those responsibilities on my hands."
For the time being, Roberts' focus is his footy and former cheerleader girlfriend Brittany.
The pair met three years ago, although he jokes they had to keep their relationship private for a year due to a strict Club policy stating players can't date cheerleaders.
"We went out for a year and didn’t tell anyone," he laughs.
"I had to tell her to leave the cheerleader squad, because it wasn’t allowed.
"We just bought a house recently in Speers Point, so we are happy."
From a tough upbringing to a homesick rookie and now the Knights' main man at halfback, Roberts' rise is one of the great rugby league stories.
"I know I’m lucky and that just comes back to all the things I did when I was young," he concludes.
"It just shows what can happen in your future if you do the right thing from the start."
Roberts is living proof of that.