Where Shift Started
At the age of three years old I was placed into the foster care system. It’s a well-known fact that up to 50 percent of kids placed in the system will end up homeless upon emancipation, and 75% of prison inmates in the U.S. are former foster kids so needless to say the odds were against me from the beginning. This looming reality was never lost on me and I spent a good bulk of my childhood feeling adrift, unworthy and listless. For years, I spent every day in survival mode, just trying to make it to the next day, week and year in one piece.
Somewhere between being placed in foster care and adopted by an all-white poor family at the age of 14, I overcame my challenges and began to apply myself. Being a self-aware kid allowed me to recognize my pattern, which always started with setting a goal, hitting a wall, overcoming that wall and finally achieving said goal. The satisfaction I got from setting goals, the ability to stay focused on the goal, and grinding until I reached them against all odds was immense. So much so that in high school, I gave myself the most challenging and lofty goal yet … making the varsity football team.
While I had the build, I definitely didn’t have the skill which became evident during my first seasons. But I persevered. I worked hard, made the team and fast forward to my senior year, I was offered a full ride scholarship to the University of Oregon, and achieved the ultimate goal of going pro in the NFL. By the age of 25, I was on the he Pittsburgh Steelers roster, had a beautiful wife, a son and an even brighter future ahead. Or so I thought.