WHITEFISH BAY, Wis. - Whitefish Bay High School's Emeria McPherson makes the game of basketball look easy.
"I would definitely say basketball is one of my stress relievers. When I come here, I'm looking to have fun, relax, get my mind off of things that are going on at home, or just any other thing going on in life period," McPherson said.
But outside the confines of the Blue Dukes' gym, the senior has dealt with a fair share in her 18 years.
"Cancer is a big thing that does run in our family. We're all like on our toes about it and making sure everybody is good with health overall," said McPherson.
In the last few months, she's also lost two young family members to gun violence in the inner city of Milwaukee.
To cope, she hits the court.
"When you're here, you know just enjoy the moment. You can't control the things that are going on outside of basketball here right now," McPherson said.
Luckily for McPherson, she has a good support system at home with her parents.
"It did affect us, and what we do is just be there for one another. We tell Emeria, we're here for you if you need to talk, but it is hard, it's really hard," said Shun McPherson, Emeria's mother.
And add in the love from her teammates and coaches at school.
"The positive peers that she has that attend Whitefish Bay, you know, there's a lot of support there," Emory McPherson, Emeria's father, said.
Shun and Emory McPherson
The McPhersons currently live in the city of Milwaukee and decided to send their daughter to Whitefish Bay because of that support and the academic opportunities available.
"You know with a lot of things going on in the inner city, we just wanted to give her a different environment. Now she's one of the top students and it's just amazing how Emeria has done," said Shun.
Emeria has taken that opportunity and run with it -- progressing well in school, all while becoming a four-year varsity player for the Blue Dukes.
"For us to use her as an example to say hey, things can be going really tough, but you can still carry yourself in a positive manner and still be a great kid. She's a great student and a great basketball player, so she definitely leads by example," said Jon Schneider, Whitefish Bay girls basketball coach.
That leadership translates off the court as well. Emeria not only helps take care of two young foster children at the McPherson home, but she also volunteers at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee, where she first started playing basketball.
"I decided to flip the switch and teach other kids either sports or just help them with homework. Just kind of help have that guidance that I had from my parents and also my other mentors," Emeria said.
With her senior year of basketball in the books, that next goal is getting into the physician assistant program at Marquette University.
"I just want to continue going down the right path, going up the spectrum and continue to give back," said Emeria.