past program director for Promise Neighborhoods in Harlem
I’m a Lehigh University graduate, class of 1997, with a degree in international relations and world politics in business. I also played for the men’s basketball team. Directly after college, I went to jail for kidnapping. I tied up another drug dealer because he said he wasn’t going to pay me back. Fortunately, I spent more time on parole than in prison, but the effects of being a felon were very detrimental. Employers don’t ask me how long I was in jail or any specifics about the charge, it just comes up as kidnapping, which has a strong negative connotation towards it. Even though there were no kids involved and the guy that I tied up was a 6-foot-2, 250-pound drug dealer, the charge still just comes up as kidnapping.
When I was in prison, I spent the majority of my time in the library reading and writing. I continued to tell myself two things when I was in prison: ‘Everything happens for a reason and ‘You can’t spell testimony without going through tests.’ The hardest thing about prison was leaving and adjusting back to regular life. When I came home, I became an even more violent drug dealer and then I went into the music industry. I’ve been in the music industry for about 20 years now and I have been lucky enough to be a road manager for everybody from Waka Flaka to Bruce Springsteen. Outside of the music industry, I am an entrepreneur, motivational speaker, and activist.
I also do a lot of work with citizens coming home from prison and help them break generational curses around gang members and poverty. I really feel like I have lived many lifetimes and got to experience many things that typically people do not. Although I have had some very troubling years and hit rock bottom more than once, being able to bounce back is the most rewarding thing I have experienced. I truly believe everything happens for a reason.”
Interviewed by Mark Walter ’22, photo by Anaya Battle ’22