[Q] HUGE Problem Changing Default Launcher!

I've been stuck two days now trying to change the default launcher on my MIUI ROM. It sounds like a simple task, but for some reason, it isn't. The problem is when I switch to another launcher, pressing home always returns to the MIUI default launcher, no matter what I do.

Some of what I have already tried:

1) I've allowed MIUI to give full root permissions to the launchers. But I cannot clear defaults or manage permissions for MIUI's launcher in settings, as it is greyed out.
2) Tried setting the launchers to set themselves as default (and keep in memory), within their own settings wherever possible.
3) I've tried several apps promising to change defaults to allow for alternative home launchers. None worked.
4) Tried changing BUTTONS (in Android settings) to have the HOME button do nothing or open recent apps. No matter what, it always quits the 3rd party launcher and returns to home of MIUI launcher.
5) I tried freezing MIUI's launcher and running Apex. This finally worked to keep Apex as default! Except after I rebooted, it got stuck on boot and I LOST EVERYTHING.
5) I upgraded MIUI unofficial ROM to 4.2.2, then 4.9.19. No difference.
6) If there is an option to "set default launcher" in a given app, and I try to set it to that launcher, it will only allow the MIUI system launcher as an option, and automatically return me to the MIUI launcher!

As far as I can tell, the problem does not appear to be related to: the phone, the ROM, or the launcher app. Why, because I had ADW working fine for years over a slightly previous version of this MIUI ROM (v4.1.2). I can't remember when things changed, but probably some time after trying Apex. But now, setting the launcher to ADW again changes nothing, the system still returns to MIUI home.

ROM: MIUI v5, (Blackwing182) version: 4.9.19
Android: JB 4.2.2
Phone: Samsung Galaxy S3

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