High School Football Reunites Brothers Separated After Hurricane Katrina

Friday night football has a way of bringing people together – often by the tens of thousands in North Texas.

But the story of Ivory and Ely is proof football can reunite family as well.

"It's like a week of happiness," said Ivory Dabner, 11, Friday night.

Dabner was speaking about the last seven days, during which he has reconnected with the older brother he feared he might have never seen again.

Ivory and his older brother, 18-year-old Elijah Carr-Walker, lived in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina came ashore 10 years ago.

Both brothers were evacuated to North Texas and were later separated by adoption.

Ivory and his adoptive family live in Highland Village.

Last Friday, Ivory and his father traveled to Mansfield to support their hometown team, Marcus High School, on what happened to be the 10-year anniversary of Katrina.

But during the game, Ivory noticed something come across the public address system.

"I heard Elijah Carr-Walker," Ivory recalled. "I turned to my Dad and said, 'That was my brother!'"

Ely, as the older brother likes to be called, was living in Mansfield – unbeknownst to his little brother – and was a senior running back for the Mansfield Tigers.

After the game, as Ely was approaching the gate to exit the field, he instantly recognized the young visitor waiting for him.

"I was like, 'No way!' Then I looked back and was like, 'That's him!'" Ely recalled to NBCDFW. "I dropped my helmet and just walked over. I had to give him a hug. I cried a little bit."

What happened last Friday might have been a coincidence, but this Friday was completely on purpose.

Ivory and his adoptive family returned to Mansfield, this time bound for the home team side of the bleachers.

"Ivory, for the last week, has just been a different kid," said father Rick Dabner. "Just so happy he's reconnected with his brother. I think he kind of feels like he has more purpose in the world, because he feels connected to something."

"It feels so good that I have a family member in the bleachers watching me play," Ely said, prior to Friday night's game. "It makes me feel really good."

Ivory's mother, Carol Dabner, told NBCDFW she does not chalk up the chance reunion for her son and his brother to coincidence or football – she gives the credit to God.

"This was absolutely a God thing," she said. "I mean, to have these many things line up, coming to fruition, I mean, wow. For any non-believers, God said, 'Here you go. I'm gonna put it in bold. I'm gonna underscore it.'"

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