Meb the marathoner returns to San Diego - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Meb the marathoner returns to San Diego

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SAN DIEGO, Calif. (CBS 8) - He's a big name in the running world, and he grew up in San Diego. New York City Marathon winner Meb Keflezighi returned to San Diego High Friday with a message of hope.

The gold medal always draws a cheer, but Meb Keflezighi also brought a message of inspiration when he visited his alma mater on Friday afternoon.

Meb has been in the spotlight since winning the New York City Marathon in November, but he came from humble beginnings. He and his family were refugees from Eritrea and moved to the U.S. when Meb was 12 years old.

"When I came up here, we didn't have a lot. We were on the welfare system and food stamps. Now I'm sponsored by Nike, but at the time I was wearing Pro-Wing and people were making fun of me," he said.

But that soon changed. Meb learned English and became a straight A student, math being his favorite subject.

"It's not so often you meet someone who is truly so humble, so genuine, hardworking...really accomplishes his dreams and cares about those around him," former schoolmate Rocky Campbell said.

Campbell has known Meb since middle school, well before the 34-year-old was an all-American at UCLA and won a silver medal at the 2004 Olympic games.

"He is today the person he was back then. The friendliness, the generosity was there from the first day I met him. I think that's why I became friends with him and everyone else at our school loves him to this day," Campbell said.

Meb says academics was always his priority, even if it meant missing homecoming.

"Yeah, it would have been fun. Unfortunately didn't even make the 10-year reunion because I was getting ready for the New York City Marathon in 2004 when I got second place, so you have to sacrifice a lot of things to get things right," Meb said.

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