My name is Jaylen. I was born on January 28, 2001. I am my mother’s 3rd child, son. Then my little sister came along three years later who I truly adore and love with all my heart.
We were raised in a home with both parents that made sure we had most of the things we needed. Both of my parents are very hard workers. Growing up, I lived in a very violent neighborhood, but I managed to not let it drag me into the things that were going on. I’m from a neighborhood in Southeast Memphis called Parkway Village, where shootouts, gang-fights and crime were the norm.
Being that I and my little sister was in elementary, and my mother had to be at work before we went to school, and my older brothers were in middle school, we had to walk to school by ourselves. I had to make sure my little sister was up and well-dressed for school before we left the house each morning. By the time I was in 5th grade, my parents had departed but my father didn’t go far. He moved in a house just down the street from us.
In the middle of my 5th grade year of school, that’s when things started to go downhill for me. I lived in a very violent neighborhood, but my mother had always told me “it’s not about where you live, it’s about how you live.”
Anyways, it was a bright day outside and me and my brother had been out all day, and my mother decided to barbecue. Just when the sun went down, me and my brother were still out in the front yard when a car came around the corner with 2 men hanging out of it shooting in our direction.
After the shooting stopped, I came from behind the house where I was hiding to find my big brother, who was 13 years old, suffering from a gun shot wound to the leg. Until this day, that image of him still sits in my head. And that’s when my life changed forever.
After my brother recovered from being shot, my mother moved from that neighborhood. My mother’s big sister decided that I would move with her for the upcoming school year, which was my first year in middle school. I went from a neighborhood where shootouts, gun fights, and crimes happened everyday to a neighborhood in Barlett, where it was nice, clean and peaceful; very different from my previous neighborhood.
I went to Whitestation Middle School and met a lot of different people. I felt like I always stood out or didn’t fit in with the kids there because I don’t think any of them came from an environment like I came from. Just when I started to make friends and start enjoying my new neighborhood a tragedy happened in my old neighborhood.
I made it home one cold December night from a basketball game at school when I got a phone call from a friend telling me that my oldest brother, my father’s son, was shot and killed in my old neighborhood in a gang-related shooting.
My head started to spin as soon as things started to go right. My big brother was killed and that made me want to go back to my old neighborhood and do something to the person who was responsible for it, but I knew I was too young and too small knew there was not very much that I could do.
My performance in school started to go down and I started getting in lots of trouble. The hurt and pain I had inside of me developed into a lot of anger. My aunt saw me headed in a path of destruction, so she did her best at trying to comfort me and keep me on a straight oath but that only worked for a little while. She got me a mentor and signed me up for a counseling program, but I refused the help given to me. I refused to talk about my hurt and pain and problems to anybody including my own family.
After a couple of years of built up anger, I was no longer getting into a lot of trouble at school, but I started getting in trouble with the law. My first year of high school didn’t go so well. I went to Sheffield High School, which is in my old neighborhood. So, I was back around my old friends and old negative activity. I then found myself not just back around my environment but a part of the negative things that went on.
No matter what I did, I valued my education. I went to school everyday until September 5, 2015, when my father had been shot and killed while leaving a store. The death of my father left a scar on my heart forever. I would have never thought the man who made me would be gone so soon and so violently.
A couple of months later, I caught a charge and was sent to Wilder, which is a youth development center (DCS), for 8 months. I left Wilder and went back to school and tried to keep myself clean from all negative activity. I moved to Cordova with my aunt and went to Cordova High School. I stayed out of trouble for a while, until a week before my 16th birthday.
On January 21, 2017, I lost a very close friend named Terrance. He was shot and killed at a party. He was only 15 years old. His death, including all the other things that has happened in my life, showed me that a life could be taken so easily and so quick.
Now I was 16 years old and I decided that I would carry a gun everywhere I went but I knew it wouldn’t be long before something tempted me to use it.
My quick temper got me locked up. This time they didn’t send me to DCS, I was now charged as an adult and could possibly be facing some time. During my time I’ve been locked up, I found out that one of my brothers lost his trial and was sentenced to life in prison.