Tribute on Father’s Day
It is often said, “It takes a village to raise a child,” but it also should be said, “It takes a man to lead a boy down the path to manhood.” After I was incarcerated at the age of 12-years-old, my father clenched the responsibility of rearing a boy into a man, inside of prison, and he did this all from outside of the prison walls. I honor my father on Father’s Day because he represents the epitome of the man who never gave up on his son. In a time when so many men shirk the responsibility of supporting their children, my father embraced the responsibility of raising his first-born son, even though he knew I would be in prison for nearly three decades.
It would take 25-years to pass before he even missed a single month in the year without visiting his son in prison. He supported me during my early years in prison as I struggled to adjust to an unforgiving prison environment by acting out as a product of my environment. He was there to correct me when I made mistakes that nearly cost me my life, and eventually he taught me how not to be a product of my environment but to make my environment a product of me. No words can express the impact my father has on my life, and if I live to be half the man my father is today I will count it a great achievement. If I live to be half the father my father is to me today, I will count it as the ultimate achievement. I am the man I am today, redeemed and restored because my father never let go of my hand as he led me down the path of manhood.
Lessons from a Father who raised me standing on the outside looking in
Statistics show that more than 80 percent of incarcerated men come from single family households. When I was incarcerated at the age of 12 to serve a 30-year sentence, I was not among the incarcerated men who come from single family households. I grew up knowing my father in my early childhood and served 29 years in prison with my father by my side every step of the way, all the way to my last steps away from prison a couple of years ago. What was remarkable about the support I received from my father was how he never wavered. Never once did my father consider abandoning me. (In fact, my father even told my trial lawyer to use him as my defense at trial, my defense was that my father did it.) Of the many lessons my father has taught me over the years, the one lesson which has impacted me the most is the lesson of embracing the responsibility of taking care of your children no matter the circumstances. There were many times my father could have turned his back on me. He could have turned his back after I shamed the family name with my violent childhood actions, but instead he dug deep in the trenches with me and supported me until I was released from prison. He could have turned his back after I bankrupted my family with lawyer fees, instead he worked twice as hard to make sure I had the money I needed to pursue my college education in prison, which culminated in me achieving my master’s degree. My father stood on the outside looking in, yet he fully embraced the responsibility of taking care of me and doing his part to help me prepare to return to society. How blessed can one man be?