I am from Wilmington, Delaware, born and raised. I grew up in a rough, mainly urban community. Drugs played a role in my everyday setting. Whether it was smoking weed, drinking liquor, or popping pills. The amount that was consumed depended on the type of mood I was in that day. My mother had me when she was 13 years old and my dad was 15 years old. Both parents were around but my grandparents played a major role in raising me. I had a fair childhood, but I wasn’t the “go to school” type of kid. Honestly, I hated going to school.

Drugs and alcohol are what I mainly grew up around. Almost everyone in my family either smoked weed or drank liquor. I didn’t start experimenting with drugs and alcohol until I was probably about 10 or 11 years old. When I was about 12 years old, I started selling weed. I started being around the older crowd; some were people my mom and dad grew up with. I ended up getting caught with a couple of ounces of weed in school and that was when my mom and grandparents found out about what I was doing. Me being in the streets a lot, I got a lot of hands-on, up-close experience with what was going on. The shootings, the drugs, the police chases, everything that comes with that life. The streets took a big toll on me at a young age. I started smoking weed, drinking liquor, and popping pills more and more. I started out with Percocets and Xanax and it progressed from there.

As time went by, I was smoking, drinking, and popping pills daily. My grandmother developed Alzheimer’s and my grandfather had passed away. The bills went unpaid for months. I never liked talking or expressing how I felt so everything that was bottled up I tried to hide with liquor and drugs but that didn’t do the job. They just caused me to think about everything more and more. We ended up losing the house I grew up in and everyone started going their separate ways. I honestly didn’t know what to do. I would stay at my aunt’s from time to time, but when I didn’t want to be there I would stay in the house I grew up in, knowing that I wasn’t supposed to be there. One day when I was in the house my aunt stopped by to get something and saw me laying in my old bed and told me that I wasn’t supposed to be there. I told her that I didn’t know where to go so I came home. It wasn’t that I didn’t have anywhere to go. It was more that everyone was moving on with life and I was just becoming a burden to them.

She took me to Job Corps right down the street in the middle of the hood. I knew I wouldn’t go every day simply because of where it was at, but they told me they had a few job opening out of state, West Virginia being the furthest one away. The worker told me I had three days to decide. Looking back, that was a sign because of everything that happened in those three days. I got into a shootout with a guy I went to school with, I got into a fight with one of my friends, and another friend got locked up for a shooting. So, no questions asked, I called the worker and Job Corps and told her that I had made up my mind and West Virginia is where I came to. That was a decade ago.

I got to Recovery Point Bluefield on December 10, 2019. Prior to that I was selling and using drugs, then caught charges for arson and went to prison. I was incarcerated for 2 years on a 4th-degree arson charge. I ended up getting a reconsideration and the judge ordered me to come to Recovery Point. Before I was locked up, I was staying in Charleston. So, when I was told I was coming to Bluefield I had no idea that Bluefield even existed. To be honest, when I first got to Recovery Point, I wasn’t trying to apply myself. I was questioning a lot; I wanted to leave so many times although I had to be there. It was either that or back to prison. I didn’t want to take a look at myself or take a look at my problems and all the things that led me to that point. When I got to my 9th step in the program, I ended up getting set back to the beginning and I was angry. But looking back on it now, that was my turning point in the program. It gave me more to think about and gave me a chance to honestly take a look at myself. See, I don’t want to have to go back to the life I just came from. My life consisted of selling dope, robbing people, running the streets, police raids, getting high, etc. So, keeping all of that in mind, I had to do something different if I wanted to keep my freedom and stay alive.

As of February 10, 2021, I am in the transitional phase of the program working as a Peer Mentor. I should be graduating from the program soon and I’m also in the process of getting my GED. As of now, my goals are to get my GED, complete the program and hope to get a job here at Recovery Point in Bluefield. My long-term goals consist of moving out of West Virginia in the next two to three years; I am thinking of Denver or Montana. I would also like to get my CNA license and work in nursing homes.

Recovery Point could have sent me back to prison because of my actions, but they never gave up on me. That alone speaks volumes within itself. With that being said, it would be stupid for me to give up on myself after all that this program has given me and allowed me to look forward to. I want to be living proof for those that are just like me. I want my voice to matter and to mean something to those with similar backgrounds as me. I want to live long and not die at an early age. So many of the guys I knew growing up lost their lives to gun violence and to the streets I walked on. I don’t want my story to end that way.

Some of my brothers are still out there in the streets doing the only thing they know. I would never turn my back on them, but I have to try to turn my back on the streets. I got little brothers and sisters that look up to me and I am the only one that can get through to them. Our dad is dead and gone, so I have to step up and lead the pack…The Right Way. I’m about to be an uncle and my family still loves me, after all, I put them through. I will be forever a part of another family which is here at Recovery Point in Bluefield. I want to thank the staff that didn’t give up on me, my brothers and to Brandon Lafferty for being the man he is. I’m blessed to be given another chance to do something different with my life and after all the things I have been through, I think I’ll stick with this new way of living. Before I close this out, I just want to say that I sold in and out of trap houses. I sold dope in and out of alleyways. I sold heroin, meth, pills, weed, and guns that were used to commit crimes. But one thing I haven’t done was sell my soul. That is one thing that would never be for sale.