"It was really rough for us," he explained to ABC11's Barbara Gibbs. "We had to go into welfare. My life kind of changed completely."
After a month or so living in the project, Del Rosario says he was asked to join a gang or to sell drugs to make a little more money.
"Being in the sixth grade, I’m definitely vulnerable, he recalled."
But Del Rosario resisted those influences. For years, his life consisted of going to school, coming straight home, and staying inside.
Eventually, the family moved to Puerto Rico seeking a better life. They lived two years with family members but found life wasn’t better. Del Rosario's grandmother in Raleigh saved all she could to bring the family back to the Triangle. There, they lived with a house full of extended family members. At times, they’d live without power, heat and water. But they didn’t care, Del Rosario says, because they were happy just to be back in Raleigh with family.
Del Rosario did care about his schoolwork. He was concerned he'd fallen behind academically in Puerto Rico, so he worked hard and stayed involved with the Boys and Girls Club where he is quite the role model.
Now, a senior at Cary High School, Del Rosario is looking forward to graduation June 11 with a 3.45 GPA in honors classes. He made a 1780 on his SAT and is preparing for UNC Charlotte in the fall.
The eldest son of five siblings, his motivation is the love of his family and his desire to take care of them.
"I just think about them through everything I do," he said. "That pushes me to be a better person."
Del Rosario's attitude and inspiring story has won him the honor of Wake County Boys and Girls Club Youth of the Year.
Next, he won at the state level and will compete for the national award this summer. If he wins, he'll get more scholarship money and a trip to the White House to meet the President.
"Even though all these bad things might have happened or I've struggled through everything," Del Rosario said "It's not going to determine whether or not I’m successful. It's not going to decide my life."
If you’d like to help the Boys and Girls Club with its mission to serve kids like Del Rosario and create more like him, click here.