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After Barrington Lincoln got accepted into the college of his dreams, he wanted to surprise the two women who helped him get to this point — his mother and aunt.

Barrington, 17, a Lutheran High School North senior from Ferguson, broke the news on Christmas. His gifts to them were T-shirts that read “Morehouse Maroon Tigers Mom” and “Morehouse Maroon Tigers Aunt.”

At first, they smiled and squealed at the gifts. But once Barrington explained that he had actually gotten into Morehouse College, one of the country’s most respected historically black colleges, Barrington’s mother screamed and fell on the couch. His aunt stared at him with eyes wide open.

Their reactions were captured on a video that has captivated people on Twitter, where it collected more than 4,100 likes and was watched more than 88,000 times as of Thursday evening. It was posted to the Twitter pages of “Good Morning America” and ABC News.

“They’re the two most important ladies in my life, and they’ve just done so much for me in my lifetime,” Barrington said in an interview. “I just wanted to, not really reward them, but show them that everything they’ve done has paid off.”

His mother, Lisa McDonald, worked long hours and late-night shifts so she could send him to private school for most of his life, he said. His aunt, Shirley Gray, was there for him whenever he needed anything — clothes, shoes, a person to talk to. They cared for him when his father was diagnosed with leukemia in his freshman year, when he donated his own bone marrow to help his father and when his father died in Barrington’s sophomore year.

“It was a really tough time in my life, but they really carried me through it despite all of my emotional battles,” Barrington said. “They were always there. They never gave up on me.”

The road to his acceptance at Morehouse was paved with hours of studying for the ACT, filming his own admissions video and doing community service and leadership activities. He is the senior class president, director of the school’s Black History Council and has been involved with the local Youth Engaging in Philanthropy, Future Business Leaders of America and Wyman Teen Leadership Program, he said.

Once he’s at the private college in Atlanta, he plans to study to become a management consultant and, eventually, the NBA commissioner.

“I view Morehouse as a paradise for a young black man seeking success,” he said. “They produce individuals equipped to change the world.”

Kristen Taketa is the K-12 education reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.