My name is Michael and I’m glad to be here to talk to you today about tragedy and how to let go of the past.
I was born in Memphis in the year 2000. In my short 17 years of life, I’ve learned a lot. There a lot of things I wish for. Mostly, I wish I would’ve respected the people that took care of me and wanted better for me.
Man, let me tell you, if you got a mom and dad that love you and want to be a part of your life… then let them do that. If they got you a lot of rules for you, man, then they love you. Respect that. If they got a curfew for you, then be there. Man, I wish I could go back and let my dad love me and take care of me the way he wanted to. I wish I could go back to school. Play basketball. Do things different. Start over.
I came from a bad home. No mom. No dad. When I was only eight months old, I went the care of the DCS. I wasn’t there for long because my big cousin, the woman I think of as my mom, came to my rescue. She came in and got me out of that life and took care of me for the next nine or ten years. Then, I went back to my biological mother for a minute, and then back and forth, forth and back, between my mother and the person I thought of as my real mom.
I ended up at my G’mom’s house with my older brother. There were a lot of heads to keep up with at my G’mom’s place. It felt like I had to take care of myself there.
Between ages eleven and thirteen, life just got harder for me and my big brother. We stayed in the streets a lot, trying to make money so we could eat and buy things we needed for school and living. Life was just moving so fast. I stayed in these streets a lot.
During this time, my dad was killed and my G’mom died. They were the two most important people in my life. After this, I started robbing again, shooting at people and getting shot at. I just did not care. I was runnin’ in and out of jail. And that’s exactly where I am right now.
I feel sad to be in jail because I got my family out there heartbroken because I put myself in a place that I don't need to be in. Jail is not a place anybody would want to be in. Life is better when you're home, not in jail doing nothing but time. I could be with my son, helping home become a better person in life. I know it's going to be hard to be out there for my son now because I've been gone his whole life. We need better lives for ourselves because I cannot see this place again.
Here’s what I want to say to you: Man, I wish I could just go back and be a better person; to never have went to jail; to never have stayed in the streets; to never have gotten in trouble. That’s what I hope for y’all, that if you got family that cares for you and would do anything for you, just do right and don’t let them down. Don’t let yourself down.
If you haven't what I've said today, please hear this: Life is hard for some kids, I get that, life was hard for me too. Just think before you do anything that can send you away from your family, your home and your life. Jail is not a place you want to be. All day, people are telling you what to do, when to eat, when to sleep, when you can use the phone. You hardly ever get to go outside. You're behind locked doors, you can't out of them and you will get tired of being in there. Trust me. Having a hard life is no excuse to do things that will get you locked up. Think about the right path. You don't have to say that you had a hard life because I had one too. That's no excuse. Just think about it. I love y'all.