I grew up on the northwest side of Detroit, where, although I lived with my mom, dad, two sisters, and niece, I came from a pretty large family of 12. Six boys and six girls. I believe that my upbringing was typical. My parents preached education first and foremost, so not only did I have to go to school, I had to bring home good grades. Of course, math was my favorite subject, and as I think back, I really liked all of my teachers, especially my math teachers.
I was pretty fortunate as a young boy because my parents and I often traveled around the country to major sporting events such as the World Series, the Super Bowl, NBA Finals, and the Rose Bowl, just to name a few. I got to travel to nearly every state that has a major sports team, and I loved every minute of it. Not only did I get to experience these great sporting events, I also got to see just how big and beautiful our country is. And I got to see it with my mom and dad. I believe that I got to know my mom and dad more than my other siblings because of all the time we spent together traveling. It was a wonderful time to be alive!!!
I would share my stories with my friends and classmates, and it was kinda strange to me that most, if not all, of my classmates and friends never left the neighborhood or street that they lived on.
But as is the case with most young people who are raised in America’s urban cities, a dark side exists. At the age of 15, while on my way home from school, I was shot four times, which left me paralyzed. One of my best friends, who was back home from college, was also shot, along with several others, because the shooter was in a car and shot into a crowd. A couple months later, another one of my best friends in the whole-wide-world was shot and killed outside a restaurant. No one was ever arrested for either shooting.
I went from a happy-go-lucky teenager to a deeply depressed and troubled teen. Despite my mom’s best efforts to save me, my life spiraled out of control. I was just too young to cope with and process being shot and paralyzed and losing my best friend to gun violence. Where did the guns come from, I kept asking myself? Who shot me? Why did I get shot? Why did my friends get shot? Why are these guns in our community in the first place? But the biggest question of all was: Will I ever walk again?