In 2009, Demetrius moved in.
“I was like, finally, I can be happy, you know? I was never really happy before," Demetrius said. "I really love Dave. Like, he's a funny guy. And Beth's like really understanding. And you can talk to them. Like, they're people you can talk to."
The four boys all share a room above the garage. The Whitfield house may be a little worse for the wear and tear…
"We have a nerf rim (on the back of the bedroom door),” Demetrius said. “You can see the damage that's been done, because we go hard on this rim."
…But Demetrius has been as big a blessing to the Whitfields as they have been to him.
"I even remember one time I was yelling at one of the kids, and I thought it was Michael. And it turned out to be Demetrius,” David said. “So he fit in right away.”
"I'm in a happy home now, so I'm a happy kid, and I don't really see the point of being sad all the time,” Demetrius said. “I know it's difficult still and I don't really get to see my family as much, but at the same time, you've got to look at the bright side of things."
Demetrius hasn't forgotten his other brothers, and they haven't forgotten about him either. They attend most of his games. And his mother comes to many of them too.
“I feel like I play better when they're there,” Demetrius said. “Because I feel like I'm doing it for them, in a way. That's why I want to be successful for college and everything. So I can look back and be like, I did this for my family."
Demetrius will be the first in his family to attend college. And the way he's playing, he'll have his pick of some good ones. Xavier has already offered a scholarship. Notre Dame, Purdue, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and LSU are recruiting him too. And the list keeps growing.
Does he feel like his goals are more attainable now?
"Yeah,” Demetrius said, “it gives me a better opportunity because it put me in a good situation."
“He dreams of going on to college and playing in the NBA,” Beth said. “And if anything that we do can be a little part of helping him to that, we'd want that for any of our kids."
Because that's exactly who he is.
"My entire extended family and everyone, they think of him as like, my family,” Michael said. “They don't think of him as my friend. They think of him as my brother."
"I treat him just like I do my other kids,” David said. “And so does Beth."
Which leads us back to the beginning... and to one very important question. What if Demetrius had never played basketball? He would never have been on that AAU team. Might have never befriended Michael. And might have never met David and Beth. If not for basketball, their lives might never have intersected. If not for basketball, where - and who - would Demetrius be now?
"I probably would have went crazy and just, I don't know, just into somewhere bad and been in trouble," Demetrius said. "And so without Michael and basketball, life would be so much different. And I really appreciate it.
"I always say like, ‘what if?’ Like what if I never would have met Michael? I'd probably be unhappy right now. But thankfully, God had a plan for me. He brought Michael to me, he brought us together.
Basketball gave Demetrius a family. And a family gave Demetrius what basketball never could: Love.
The Whitfields only have another two years with Demetrius before he heads off to college, so they're relishing the time they do have together.
Beth says that when Demetrius comes home from college, she hopes he'll come home to their house. And, of course, bring his laundry.
She said she always wants Demetrius to feel like their home, is his home.