ODESSA, TX (KWES) - A former Permian high school football player now division one college athlete returned home to Odessa for the break. Not only to see friends and family, but a teacher who had been following his career. This week was the first time they saw each other in over a decade and it was all caught on camera.
Derron Gatewood, former Sam Houston Elementary student and current UTEP Offensive Lineman said, "I walked in her class and she didn't recognize me at first she kind of just stared at me and the closer I got she was like oh I didn't recognize you and she finally realized who I was."
After 13 years of not seeing each other in person, you can't blame Ms. Perales for not realizing Derron. The D I athlete said he got a call from a family member that his former teacher was sick so he decided to do something special for her.
"I just thought why not go surprise her and show her I'm always thinking about her and just put a smile on her face," said Gatewood.
Derron gave his teacher a picture of him on the field at UTEP and his schools t-shirt.
Ms. Perales didn't want to go on camera but said she's always looking to watch Derron anytime she can. The former Permian High School football player said he his former 4th grade teacher did what she could to point him in the right direction.
"She just taught me to be the best I can be throughout my whole life," said Gatewood.
For Derron's mom Denisa Gatewood, who captured the moment between the two, she said words can't describe what she has meant to her and her family.
"For her to still remember my son I can't thank her enough that means a lot that she still remembers. It's been 13, 14 years and she still remembers my son and she's still supporting him," said Gatewood.
Next season when number 65 hits the field, he will be doing so knowing his former teacher is rooting for him almost 300 miles away.
"Thank you for everything. Thank you for supporting me. Thank you for not forgetting about me," said Gatewood.
The Ector County School District tells NewsWest 9 Ms. Perales is doing better and she loves teaching her kids.