I got a wooden plaque after finishing that 150-mile race. There is no money in this sport.
Indicators of failure (PowerPoint slide):
- Abusive father
- Raised by a single mother
- Young black make in a rural white town
- Family tragedy
- 1.1 high school GPA
- Failure to meet testing standards for military
So when I was 8, we moved to Braziliana.
There are 9 blacks in this town of 9,000 people.
My mom went to college when she was 36 and worked 3 jobs just to keep food on the table. I saw crosses burning in the field.
In 1993, the KKK marched through town.
When I was 12 years old, the man who’d been raising me, my father figure, I found him in our garage. He’d been shot 5 times.
In high school, I had a brown Chevette. Students painted, “We’re going to kill you nigger” on it. I had the same thing written on my Spanish class notebook. When I went to the principal to tell him about it, he said, “The spelled ‘nigger’ ‘niger’ .” I knew then I wasn’t going to get any help.
My grades were bad, because I basically stayed home from school.
At 18, I met a role model who was in the Air Force. He told me to take the ASVAB.
I failed it the first time. I got a tutor and failed it again the second time. The third time, I barely passed. So basically, I had to cram all of my high school education into 6 months, so I could pass this test and join the military.
When I joined the Air Force, I wanted to be a Paramilitary Rescuer, which is a guy who jumps out of helicopters to rescue downed soldiers. I was one of the top guys in class, when the doctors told me, “You have sickle cell. With this disease, you can not dive.”
I had to find another job.