As I lie here in bed, gazing at the ceiling, I began to reflect on where I am now in life, where I have been, and where I am going. I start to feel goosebumps arise on my forearms andchest as I reminisce about my past. I was born and raised in Miami, Florida. I am not referring to the tourist sites of South Beach and Ocean Drive that are featured in movies and on social media. I am talking about Dade-County, where your best friend could rob you of all your possessions and try to sell them back to you in the same setting. I am glad to have made it out and be headed in the right direction. I am a year away from graduating from the prestigious Howard University, and commissioning as a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Army Infantry.
I was not always on the right path. My mother always use to tell me, “Two wrongs do not make it right,” but my Aunt Grace consistently argued that three lefts do. I loved my aunt to
death. She kept the family together. She hosted Sunday cookouts and was the team mom for our youth football team at Liberty City Park (not to mention the parties that she threw after we won big games). I grew up thinking she was my mother because I was always with her and helping her out. My mother worked double shifts constantly. My brothers and I were not able to see her. I thought she did it just to get away from us. As a kid, I did not know that we were poor. My aunt hustled on the corner, and my mom was a nurse. Any time we went grocery shopping, they
would let the kids pick out the cereal they wanted along with one snack. Back then that meant a lot to us. I did not realize that it was paid for with food stamps, but it was the little things that
blinded me from the bigger picture. It did not matter, really. Life seemed good until the night of January 28, 2006, when I was told that my aunt and uncle Pooh were gunned down in cold
blood. After that, nothing was the same.
My family fell apart. My mother put herself in debt and went through a phase that I hope she never goes through again in her lifetime. Until this day I feel as if it was my fault that my
aunt died. Maybe I could have shot back, took the bullet for her, or something. I was only
twelve, but I did not look nor act my age, and I always felt the need to protect my family. I let her down and I was devastated. It seems like when she died so did I and the meaning of family.My mother tried to find love but in all the wrong places, which negatively affected me. She was dating abusive guys who would strip me naked and just beat me to sleep. One guy even made me stand in front of the lake behind our apartment building as a target, while he threw rocks at me. I tried to tell my mom but she was either too tired from work or told me that I needed the
discipline. Love didn’t live in my house, so I turned to the streets.
I’m not proud of the things that I’ve done but I knew that it wasn’t gone be that way
forever. While being abused, I use to always plan my escape. I knew there was another side to life and all I need was an opportunity to get there. However, reality would always set in when something would go down on the block. The streets ran dry when police swept the block and
started arresting most of my friends. It was nothing but the grace of God that kept me safe
because I was the only one not to get caught. I knew that I had to find another way. I remember getting on my knees and asking God to show me the way. I also made a promise to myself to
change my life around and to never go back to the streets. I even made that promise in the honor of my aunt Grace. I started playing football my sophomore year in high school. Reality didn’t really set in until senior year when every starter had a scholarship, except me. My mother was tired of dealing with me so she kicked me out of the house, and I moved in with my teammate Duke who considered me as a brother. Senior year was coming to an end and I finally got the call for a scholarship offer to Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. It was time to start a new chapter of my life and I was anxious to see what the world had in-store for me.
My freshman year of college didn’t go so well for me. The head coach that recruited me was fired, I was red-shirted, and it seemed as if death kept calling me. I felt like the grim reaper
was always a step away from me. My closest friends were getting killed left and right. Adding
fuel to the fire, my cousin Blue and my Uncle Bubba were shot and killed. It was hard to focus,
and not playing that year didn’t help. I transferred the following semester to Independence
Community College in Kansas, with a goal to potentially play for a Division 1 school. It was
definitely a culture shock. I was no longer amongst the majority; I was back to being the
minority. I knew that it was just a little speed bump on my road to glory. That spring of 2013
sparked a flame inside of me that I didn’t know existed. I was top of my class both on and off the field; I won the Dolores Jones Writer of the Year Award (an award given to the best writer in
Independence, Kansas), and everyone loved me. Well not everyone. The head coach hated me
and I didn’t know why. He even pulled my scholarship and didn’t justify the reason. That move forced me to go back home to Miami. I was lost!
I took a semester off living from house to house, couch to couch, trying to escape from
the city. One day I contacted an old teammate who played for Howard University. He introduced me to the head coach and we clicked from that day on. He offered me a scholarship to play and I accepted it, of course. I started my HU experience in the spring of 2014. I couldn’t play right
away because of the NCAA transfer rule, but that didn’t stop my grind nor did it knock my
hustle. I worked three part-time jobs, played football, and even joined ROTC with a plan to
become an officer in the Army. Life was good again until the 25th of March 2015. I was pulled
out of practice due to a complaint and was suspended for an entire school year with no
appeal process or evidence presented against me. I was back where I started once again. I
remember sitting in the tub every night for three weeks straight, praying and crying, asking God to show me the way, just as he did when I was being abused as a child. The only options I had at the time were going back to the streets or enlisting in the Army. I wasn’t breaking the promise
that I made, so I enlisted.
Military training was rigorous both physically and mentally, but for the first time in a
long time I felt like I belonged. I even found myself. I found love, as well. I graduated from
training March of 2016 and got hitched shortly after. Things were looking good again and this
time I had a family that I could call my own.
One evening I was laying up with my wife and received a call from my coach asking for me to come back. We talked about the opportunities I would be missing out on if I didn’t get my degree. He also elaborated on how much the team needs me and that my scholarship was still
available. I told him that I would talk it over with my wife, he laughed in shock and told me he
needed an answer soon. I hung up and asked my wife for her perspective, and I could tell by the look on her face she didn’t want me to go. We argued about it, and I could understand her
frustration because all we had were each other. I risked that by going back to Howard in D.C.,
while she would be stationed in Hawaii. I loved my wife, but I saw the bigger picture and she
couldn’t. I knew going back to school would set us up for success after the military, and the
vision was too far for her to see.
I called my coach back and accepted the scholarship offer. I came back to school that fall of 2016 and it was shocking to me. I came back to a school that didn’t have my back, but I
wanted to clear my name from the suspension, and the image of how others viewed me. It wasn’t until I met A.J. Calloway (host from the television series 106 and Park) on homecoming night that brought a spark back into my life. He was a mentor for my roommate Teddy at the time, and invited us to his party. When I got there it felt like a dream come true. Celebrities were dancing, drinking, and having a ball on top of the largest rooftop in the District. I even had some intellectual conversations with a few congressmen who attended the event. It was an awesome experience!
A.J. came up to me and whispered these encouraging words in my ear; “God will see you through brother. I know it doesn’t seem like it, but God has a plan for you just stay the course.” Even though he had a few drinks I was always told “a drunk man doesn’t tell fairy tales.” As the sponge that I am, I just soaked it all in. From the conversations, down to the scenery. That day molded me to the man that I am today.
From that day forward I just put in work. I was so focused on being successful it
damaged me personally. My wife and I got divorced, I had to cut ties with a lot of friends, but even that didn’t stop me. I started a fashion company and a record label that I hope to one day blow up as the next big things. I’m tired of struggling, it’s time to start living!
Life has thrown many curve balls my way. Even looking at where I am now, I’m one
year away from graduating and reaching my aspirations. Unfortunately football has withdrawn the scholarship offer due to my late enrollment because of my duties to the military, and
coaching staff changes. Even that won’t stop me, but I will need your help. I came, I saw, and I conquered!
So, I ask that if my story inspired you please share it, and help me get over this speed bump as I continue on this road to glory.
Cadet Chin, David C.
- Natalie Coache
- John Butler
- Marc Theobald
- Danladi Whitten
- June Hudson
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