I was in the streets, a gangbanger. I was a bodyguard for a street chief. He gave me powdered cocaine, which gave me energy. I stayed up for 10 days without sleep. Years later I went to the penitentiary—I was sentenced to 10 years for robbery. I did three terms. After prison I dealt crack cocaine for 5 years. I got hooked—I thought I could break away from it, but I couldn’t. It was just a matter of time before I lost everything. That was my downward spiral over 20 years to becoming homeless.
I didn’t like the shelters. I’d ride the train all night, or stay at O’Hare Airport or in parks, depending on the weather. Sometimes I’d go to Stroger Hospital to get placed in a nursing home. You could stay up to 60 days.
I had enough sense that I was tired of doing what I was doing. I had a religious upbringing but I lost contact with God and my spiritual background. God knows the heart.
The street chief I worked for thought I was cheating him on the dope money and shot me in the head but I survived. That’s when I started to turn my life around. I still had an addiction issue at first but nine years ago I checked myself into a treatment center at Salvation Army. You ain’t gonna beat them streets—sooner or later they’re gonna catch up with you. I’ve been clean for nine years. I’m living at a senior living residence run by Chicago Housing Authority.
I hit all the bases—that’s my life story.