At a very young age I knew my life was different from most of the kids that I
played with at elementary and middle school. I knew that not having a father, or
even a father figure, in my life was going to be hard. But I didn’t use that as an
excuse. I used my situation as a challenge to motivate me to want better for myself,
for my mom and for my future children.

When I was four years old my dad was imprisoned with a sentence of life without
parole. He killed his girlfriend, my mom’s cousin. My dad had two children with
this other woman. He told me that at that time he did not know what he was doing
because he was on some heavy drugs.
That’s why I don’t have a father in my life. But I look at my situation as an easier
problem to handle than my half-brothers, who have neither a father nor a mother
in their lives.

My half-brothers heard the shots that murdered their mom. They were locked
in their bedroom when it all happened. So when I think my life is tough I imagine
what my half-brothers have to deal with. Imagine hearing those gun sounds go off
over and over in their heads. That’s why I tell myself that I am blessed to have the
life that I have. And that’s how I’ve looked at things for years.

Not to say I am happy that my dad is in prison. I’m not. But I am not mad
anymore because God gives us tough obstacles in life to make us better and stronger
people. God doesn’t give us things that can’t be handled. And I feel God knew I
could handle this challenge.

Growing up with my dad in prison was difficult at times but I did not let that
be my excuse to fail at things. I matured into a confident, optimistic young man.
As I kid, I used to wish my dad was here with me. But as I grew older I matured
and realized that I could handle a lot of things without him because I had a
wonderful inspiration around me – my mom.

Everything I’ve done has been for my mom, whether it is sports or school, it
is all for her. My accomplishments and dreams are all for her. Without my mom,
none of the good things that have happened to me would have been possible.
Once again, I’m not happy that my dad is locked up, but things happen for a
reason. I am the person I am today because of the situations I have faced. And I am
the person I am because of my mom and wanting better for her.

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