Thirty-two years ago, his mother, Fatima, migrated from economically depressed and war-torn Sierra Leone to the Washington, D.C. area. Sierra Leone has only recently emerged from a brutal civil war, and the small nation on Africa's east coast is known as much for its grim health statistics as anything else.
The average life expectancy for males is just over 40 and seven percent of the population is infected with AIDS.
Abe Koroma, whose actual first name is Alim, was born in Washington, D.C. The 6-foot-3, 280-pounder now attends Milton Hershey, a boarding school in central Pennsylvania.
I live in a housing complex with the Nagles and nine other Milton Hershey students, Koroma said. The Nagles are the family that supervises our particular house.
Though he spent his early years near the nation's capital, Koroma began attending Milton Hershey in first grade.
My mom was looking for a good school for me, so she found out about Milton Hershey, he explained.
Milton Hershey has strict academic standards and a formal dress code for students. It has done a world of good for the well-spoken young man.
The school prepares you for college; if you take advantage of it you'll be set, he said.
Ironically, Penn State wasn't always the first option for Koroma, even after Joe Paterno offered him a scholarship back in May.
Coach Larry Johnson was recruiting me, but I was looking at Maryland and Ohio State, Koroma said. I just kept getting that vibe from Coach Johnson, and I knew it was the right fit for me. I attended the senior prospect camp and wanted to wait until my mom could come see the school. We took an unofficial visit on Saturday and I made it official and committed to Penn State.
Obviously his mother is very excited about her son earning a free education.
She gives her thanks to God, she always says with him I can do anything, Koroma said. I just have to keep going with God and everything will work out.
I'm really excited, I was in shock yesterday, Koroma said. Today it finally hit me and I started getting really excited.
Excited and thankful.