Thanks BTM and BTC family: Black, Tre, Byron and George Purnell, David Richardson, James, Eric Smith, Gilbert, Ian, Kelly, Rupert Thompson, Jamal, Mason West, Big Will, T. Black (Xist entertainment) Frank Dent, Sheldon Kay, The entire West End family, Rebecca Willis, Stonophia Burrows, Tracy Fitz, Trabee, Lydia Henderson, David Arrington, Derrick Williams, Tina Riley, Geraldine Malory.Thanks to The Detroit Center Church (Glenda Moseley for all your love and support, Pastor Phillip Willis and Sister Willis for your tough love, sister Burse, Elder Craig and King. Bethel Lansing for giving me my first assignment and A.P.O.C. Ministries for letting me be myself and realizing that some birds aren’t meant to be caged.for looking out: Shawn Crockwell (Bermuda Love), Patrick and Paul Graham, Marcus Flowers, Jeff Ross, Equa Epps, Gama(s) (Bernie, Bam Bam, Keaton, Al, Lonny, Shawn, Angelo & Byron Scott) and Maurice Gordon, Davion Fouche, the Graham crew (Camille, Dave, and Michele), and the Raw Dogs (Rodney Cooper, and Jeff Wilder).West Wings for life: Mo from the N.O. (New Orleans), Jeff Harley (Atlantic City), Gerald Pennick (L.A.), Christian (Oklahoma), Henry and Curtis (Birmingham).: Henry Ford High Mrs. NunElder Shan the Man, Dr. Barnes, Dr. Janice Johnson, Dr. Evelyon Johnson, Coach Roddy, Dr. and sister Paul, Trevor Frazier, President and first lady Baker, Deborah FrysonState University Rodney Patterson, Murray Edwards, Dr. Chris Dunbar, Dr. Bonita Curry, Dr. Lee June, Dr. Sonia Gunnings, Dr. Pero Dagbovie, Dr. Susan Printy and Dr. Nancy Coldflesh.sincere thanks to All my Haters. Your negativity and criticism continues to push me and challenge me to reach new levels of greatness.book is dedicated to:and Jesse Thomas (mom & dad). Thanks for being courageous enough to be my parents and not my friends. I can see clearly now the rain is gone (meaning, I have children of my own... lol).De Moseley (the love of my life). Thanks for being the other piece of iron that sharpens me and for being the wind beneath my wings.will Love you always:and Malori (lil sisters)and Jayda (my seeds)of my life:Gwen, Grandma Lama, Auntie Wanda, Auntie Cleo, Auntie Booby, Auntie Tawana for your continued support since diapers. Sister Lamb, Ma Trotter and Ma Bez (Sterline Foster)of my life:Bruce, Uncle Jimmy, Tim and Wayne Smith, Robert King, Leon Burnette, Pastor James Doggette, T. Marshall Kelly, Preston Turner, Rupert Cannonier, Clift Kyle, Renee Chandler, Steve, Pastor James Black, Elder Ward and E. E. ClevelandBrothers:Daniels, Lee Lamb, Lloyd Paul (S/O St. Marteen), Carlas Quinney, Burks Hollands, Shannon Austin, Greg Arneaud, Adrian Marsh, Derrick Green, Quest Green, Joey Kibble, Karl Phillips.legends who inspired me:Ross III, Virtue (mad love for the Trotter sisters) and Shavon Floyd, Sharon Riley and Faith Chorale, Charles Arrington, Angelic Clay, Angela Brown, Brian McKnight, W.S.B. (Willing Succeeding and Black) DP (Owen Simmons), Voice of Triumph (Damien Chandler), Whitney Phips, Barry Black, Chris Willis, Take 6, Dajuan Starling, and Connect Four.Dr. Lee N. JuneIStruggle
. Boiling Point
. Sweet Little Lies
. I’m a SurvivorIISolution
. Change Starts With You
. Where Do I Start
. When I Move You Move
. Go Where You’re Celebrated Not Tolerated
. Momentum is Promiscuous: One day it’s with you, the next day
. Enough is EnoughIIISecret 2 My Success
. A Different World
. Put a Ring on It
. What an Experience
. Enter to Learn Depart to Serve
. P.U.S.H (Push Until Something Happens)
. White Sands and Blue Water
. You Gotta Want It As Bad As You Wanna Breathe
. Careful What You Wish For
. If I Could Be Like Mike
. Don’t Cry Over spilled Milk. Wipe it Up and Pour Yourself Another Glass
. Miracle Territory
. Homecoming: Eric ThomasMessage From the Author’s PageEric ThomasHome The Motivationis an excellent book, written by a person with a profoundly relevant message. The message is inspirational, motivational, and timely. It is inspirational because it is a message of resiliency, hope, and success. It is motivational because it leads the reader to see that success is possible; that one can overcome odds; and that what appear to be setbacks can be building blocks. It is timely because there is a need today, and in all ages, for a message of hope for all, but particularly for our youth and aspiring high school and college students.remember vividly meeting Mr. Thomas (Eric) when he first gave his presentation at Michigan State University. The presentation was well received and I said to myself- “This is a person with a message”. The message that day was one of honesty, hope, survival, resiliency and yes-motivational. So well received, he was invited back to campus numerous times. As I have come to know and respect Mr. Thomas over the years, I can now say that he is not just a motivational speaker, but someone with a life story that motivates. He walks the talk and practices what he “preaches”.recommend this book to all. While autobiographical and gripping in the story it tells, it is also filled with success and life tips. This is what I really like about the book. The tips are born out of life experiences and presented in a way that is appealing, gripping, and educational.book is a must read for those seeking inspiration and hope; for those looking for a tool to instill inspiration and hope; and for high school and college students who are aspiring for success in the midst of what seems like obstacles. It could also be used as part of a curriculum to teach much needed life skills and success principles.book presents Mr. Thomas’ story only up to a certain point in his life. He continues to be a person of inspiration to many across the nation. I thank and congratulate him for this contribution via this book, and expect much more from him in the future. As it has been said- “To whom much is given, much is required”. To Mr. Thomas (Eric), much has been given and experienced, and thus it is required of you to share with us and to continue to walk in integrity.N. June, Ph.D.State UniversityServed as Vice President for Student Affairs and Services and Associate Provost for Academic Student Services and Multicultural Issues.2011STRUGGLE
“Anger is a wind which blows out the lamp of the mind.”Green Ingersoll
“I hate you!” I wish I could take back the words I said to her that day, but I couldn’t. I swear it was not premeditated. If I could only turn back the hands of time, I would have done it differently. I should have sat her down years ago and just talked it out. I should have gotten it out of my system instead of being so secretive about it. I should have told her the day it happened that I felt betrayed and angry, and that I felt as though I couldn’t trust her anymore. Why didn’t I just tell her? Well, it’s too late; I have gone too far. I can’t go back and change things now. It is what it is!
<<Ring…ring…ring>>. “Hello…hello,” I said as I rolled over in the bed reaching for the phone.
“What you still doing in the bed?” Melvin said in a surprised tone.
“What? It’s Sunday, it’s cold, football season is over, and I have the house to myself. Unless you know something I don’t, I don’t see a reason to get outta bed! The question is, why are you calling my house so early? Don’t you got a girl yet?”, I asked jokingly as I readjusted the covers.
“I’m lifting weights and I need someone to spot me,” Melvin replied.
“Why didn’t you say that in the first place? Give me thirty. I need to hop in the shower real quick and throw some gear on.” I jumped out of the bed, grabbed a pair of all red Lathrup High jogging pants, my red Lathrup hoodie, a pair of socks, a white t-shirt, my underwear, and headed for the bathroom., I heard a noise coming from downstairs. It sounded like someone opening the garage door, but that was impossible. My parents were in Chicago visiting my aunt Wanda. Then I heard loud footsteps moving toward the living room. My heart was pounding so loud I was afraid the intruder could hear it. My adrenaline started to kick in and I tiptoed back into my room, grabbed my baseball bat from under my bed, and headed toward the stairs. With the bat tightly clinched in both hands, I gently walked down each stair trying desperately not to make a sound. As I approached the last step, I turned my body toward the direction where I heard the sound and out of the corner of my eye I saw a large male frame standing in the living room area. I walked slowly toward the figure with the bat at my side, ready to swing and bring whoever it was to the ground. I bent down trying to stay low when suddenly, the image became clear. It was my father. But that could not be, he was supposed to be in Chicago with my mother. I stopped dead in my tracks, did an about face, and ran back up the stairs. With each step my heart pounded harder and harder. Once I made it to the top of the stairs I shot into my room, grabbed the phone and called Melvin back. “Dog, you’re not going to believe this my father’s at the crib!” “I thought you said they were in Chicago,” Melvin asked. “I thought they were too, but apparently he’s not. I think he’s been here the entire weekend.” “Alright, calm down, just calm down, whatever you do don’t panic, just act normal. He probably doesn’t even know,” Melvin whispered. “You right, I put all the beer bottles in the garbage, put everything back like I found it and I cleaned the house pretty good. You’re right, I’m trippin, he didn’t notice. We did trash all the bottles and clean the grill, right?” Melvin was quiet.I got off the phone with Melvin I quickly hopped in the shower. When I got out I threw on my jogging pants and hoodie, headed down the stairs and out the door. I was half way out of the door when suddenly I heard him call my name. “Eric, do you know what your mother did with the steak?” “What steak?” I replied without hesitation. I headed toward the kitchen trying to keep a straight face. I kept thinking about what Melvin said, “Stay calm and act like nothing happened.” “Are you sure you have no idea what your mother did with the steak?” “Yes sir, she didn’t mention anything to me about no steak.” “All right,” he said. “I’m about to go over Melvin’s for a while.” I walked out of the door slowly as to suggest everything was normal, but I knew if they found out I threw a party at the house and barbequed the steak, I was a dead man walking. I had a feeling my father didn’t buy my story and as soon as my mom got home from Chicago he was going to check with her to find out what really happened. If they put all the pieces together, I was going to have to get out of the house before my father killed me.
“Stop being so paranoid. You know how mean your old dude is, if he thought for one second we had a party at the house last night, he would have murdered you by now,” Melvin said jokingly. “You haven’t said a word since you been here. For real E, you need to chill out. Tomorrow morning everything will be back to normal.” <<Ring… ring…>> “Hello, how are you?” Melvin’s mom said as she picked up the phone.got quiet and went to the stairwell so I could hear Mrs. Brown’s conversation. I can’t explain it, but somehow I just knew that it was my mother on the other end of the phone. My heart started racing again. It was early evening and that was around the time my mom generally made it in whenever she drove home from Chicago. Also, the tone in Melvin’s mother’s voice didn’t sound like she was speaking to a close friend.
“As a matter of fact they were together late last night,” she told the person on the other end. “Not a problem, have a good evening, I’ll talk to you soon.” “Eric, that was your mother, she wants you to come home.”
“I knew it! I knew it. I shouldn’t have listened to you. I knew I shouldn’t have thrown a party at the crib,” I said while pacing the floor. “We probably left all kind of evidence. Man, he is about to kill me. I knew I shouldn’t have listened to ya’ll fools.”
“Stop acting like a punk and calm down. You want me to go with you?”to impress Melvin, I lied, “Naw, I ain’t scared of that dude. Let me get my jacket. I’m good. I’ll call you if I need you.”
“You know I got your back,” Melvin said sincerely.though I knew he had my back, I was not in the least bit comforted by his words. He didn’t have to face my father, I did. On the way home I cut through the neighbor’s yard taking my usual shortcut, but then backtracked and took the scenic route. It didn’t make a lot of sense to rush home for a butt whipping. As I walked toward the house I told myself, “Party or no party, right or wrong, he wasn’t going to put his hands on me again.” I was the only kid on the block still getting whippings in high school. I was 16 and still had to wear long-sleeved shirts to school to hide the bruises on my arm that I got from trying to protect myself from the belt. It actually looked worse than it felt. What hurt the most was the fact that my classmates would joke on me about it. When I walk in this house if any one of them says something about me getting a whipping, it’s on!I grabbed the knob on the screen door and walked through the garage into the house, I kept telling myself to relax and act normal. I deliberately went through the garage and not the front door because it gave me a few extra minutes to gather myself. I paused for about 30 seconds to calm down, gain my composure, and practice saying, “What’s up ma, Mrs. Brown said you wanted to talk to me.” I must have practiced saying, “What up ma, Mrs. Brown said you wanted to talk to me,” a million times before I mustered up enough courage to walk into the house, and into the family room to face my parents. As I walked into the family room, the sight of my parents struck fear in my heart. I opened my mouth and all the moisture evaporated and my voice began to crack, “Mrs. Bbbbbbrown, I stuttered, ssssaid you wanted to see me.”
“Yes, I talked with your dad yesterday and he said that the steak was missing. Do you know what happened to it?
“Well, that’s strange because your father and I found beer bottles in the backyard and the grill looks like someone cooked steak on it recently. I am going to try this again! Did you have a party here last night?” she pressed.
“Party? No ma’am, I didn’t have a party here last night.” I tried to keep a straight face, but it was difficult because my mom always knew when I was lying.
“Stop lying. Eric, I am so damn sick of you. How could you have a party in my house, eat the groceries your father and I worked for, and have absolute strangers in my house? What in the hell were you thinking?” she screamed. I didn’t say a word; I just stared at her.
“Eric, do you hear me talking to you? I asked you a question, what in the hell were you thinking? I want an answer and I want it now!” I didn’t flinch, I just stood there with a blank look on my face.
“Son, your mother asked you a question,” he chimed in. I pretended as if I did not hear a word he was saying. “I know you hear me talking to you son…I said your mother asked you a question!” He typically used a different tone of voice when he had to repeat himself. He was from the old school and believed that when an adult spoke to a child, the child was supposed to acknowledge he or she was being spoken to. I knew the drill. If you did not respond the first time, he would ask you a second time a bit louder, giving you the benefit of the doubt that maybe you didn’t hear him. He was not necessarily trying to scare you by projecting his voice; it was more of a warning. Generally, I would surrender. I would play the dumb role like I did not hear him the first time, and the second time say, “yes sir” and answer the question. Not this time. In a strong and demanding voice he said, “Boy, you better answer your mother.” Before I knew it I snapped and my mind went blank. I was physically in the room, but mentally I was long gone.
“You can’t make me,” I murmured under my breath as I bit my bottom lip and shook my head as if to say “not this time—not this time.”knew what I was doing was dangerous. I had heard stories of how his 6 foot 8 inch 250 pound frame had annihilated men twice my size, but I was tired of living in fear. Before I knew it, I was racing toward him in an attempt to get past him and into the garage. But as I made my initial move out of the family room toward the hallway he blocked the pathway and moved in on me. He had an obvious advantage in both reach and size but I thought I could offset it with my quickness. I launched toward him in an attempt to knock him down and give me enough time to run through the hallway toward the door leading to the garage. As I went to push him, he grabbed my arm and before I knew it had me in a headlock gasping for air. I tried to use my lower body strength to force his legs from under his body, but it didn’t work. The next thing I knew he was hitting me with some serious blows to the body. Helpless, the only thing I could think to do was pray. I didn’t go to church and I was definitely not a Christian, but I figured I had nothing to lose by calling on Him. “God if you can hear me—Help! This dude is about to kill me!” Within in a matter of seconds, I was able to push both of his arms toward his body and loosen the cobra-like grip he had me in. I began to pull my head back in an attempt to regain my balance. The only thing I wanted to do was try to create enough separation between us so that I could make it out of the house. Once I was completely free from his grip I pushed him away and ran toward the garage. I made it safely into the washroom and slammed the door shut behind me to give myself a few extra seconds. I ran through the garage and exited the door to the far left. I figured he would go through the front door and try to cut me off but I was too quick; by the time I made it out of the garage, I noticed he and my mother were just getting to the porch. Once I made it to the street I knew I was in the clear because there was no way either one of them could catch me. I stopped running once I made it past the mailbox and into the street. I turned and faced my mother. All I remember thinking was, I waited four years to say this. It was late in the afternoon, and as luck would have it, on this particular Sunday, it seemed like all our neighbors were outside. It felt like a scene out of a movie. All the neighbors stopped what they were doing and all eyes were on our family. Tears began rolling down my face uncontrollably and I exploded, “I hate you, I swear to God I hate you! You watched him put his hands on me and you didn’t do nothin’. You never said nothin’ to him. You should have protected me! I hate you!”mother yelled back at me but I was in such a haze I couldn’t hear anything but my rapid heartbeat. “You put him before me, you put him before your own blood,” I shouted. Then he interrupted in an attempt to put his two cents in. “Who you talking to?” he growled.
“Shut up talking to me! You don’t mean nothin’ to me! If I see you in the streets, I’m killin’ you!” The neighbors looked on in astonishment with their mouths wide open. We lived in a diverse community at the time and it was quiet for the most part. Lathrup Village (the suburbs) was the complete opposite of our old neighborhood on the west side of Detroit. In Detroit, it was nothing to hear sirens racing through the hood in the middle of the night, or the sound of bass pounding out of the local drug dealer’s car as they drove up and down the block.no means were we the Huxtables. We had our challenges, but I don’t think any of us ever thought it would come to this. Just before I took off running, I stopped everything and stared at my mom thinking, “How could you betray me? How could you put your husband before your own son? How could you keep that secret from me all those years?”
“I’m sorry mama I never meant to hurt you. I never meant make you cry but tonight, I’m cleaning out my closet.” – Eminembody felt numb. In my anger, I said things I never thought I’d say to the one person I loved more than life. I never intended to hurt my mom. I guess I held it in so long that when it finally came out; it came out with no regard for anything or anyone.ran down my face as I thought, “Not in a million years did I ever think that my mom would lie to me. It hurt my heart watching her stand there on the porch next to him after he just tried to kill me. It was like she was saying, “No matter what, right or wrong, I am going to support my husband and I don’t care how you feel.” Never in my wildest dreams did I think she could do or say anything to hurt me as much as when she kept the secret from me. I was wrong, this hurt just as much.I snapped out of my trance, I realized I had to make a decision, and I had to make it quick. The question was, “Do I run to my right, east towards Telegraph Road, or do I run towards the left, west towards Lasher Road?” I decided to run west.all happened so fast. I wasn’t quite sure where I was headed and to be honest it didn’t matter as long as I was getting the hell away from them. When I got to the end of the block, I kept straight and ran through the neighbor’s yard to Ivanhoe Lane. I wanted to make sure my father couldn’t trace my steps. I kept running until I no longer recognized where I was. After I passed a liquor store on 11 Mile and Lahser, I noticed an empty field behind the houses. As I got closer to the field I discovered that it was a small park. The park had a few pieces of playground equipment: a swing set, monkey bars, and a metal rippled slide all enclosed by sand. I sat down on the edge of the slide trying to catch my breath. Once I regained my composure, I walked over to the swing set and began swinging. I tried not to think about the day I found out, but it was impossible.was a Catch-22. On one hand, I wanted to know the truth, but on the other hand, I was afraid. As far back as I could remember, certain family members tried to convince me that my mother was keeping something from me. I was really strong in the beginning; whenever someone would slightly hint about my mom and some family secret, I would dismiss it because of the ultimate trust I had in her. As the years passed, something was eating at me. I couldn’t take not knowing any longer. I took matters into my own hands.I approached the hallway leading into my parent’s room, I heard my conscious say, “Eric, don’t do it, you know you shouldn’t go into your parent’s room looking through their personal belongings. If you really want to know, just call your mom and ask.” I stopped for a quick second to acknowledge the voice, but like so many other times before, I ignored it. I walked out of the hallway and slowly into their room passed the bed and toward their dresser. I couldn’t decide if what I was looking for was in their armoire or the dresser and didn’t have all day to decide. My father was a supervisor at GM; which meant he could pop in at any moment. I stood there for about 30 seconds when suddenly, a light came on, “Eeny, meeny, miny, moe.” My index finger was pointing at the honey pine finished dresser when I got to the last moe. I walked toward the dresser and cautiously opened the top left drawer. I wanted to make sure no one else knew I had been in the drawer, so I memorized sure where everything was so I could put things back exactly how I found them. When I opened the drawer, I also noticed a sliver box with a lock. It looked like something my parents would keep important papers in, but I didn’t know how much time I had, so I moved it to the side and began looking through the papers in the top drawer. I grabbed the first set of papers and my hands began shaking. As I looked through them, I didn’t see anything, so I began putting them on the top of the dresser sequentially so I would not forget what order they were in. After a few minutes of looking and finding nothing relevant, I began feeling bad for going through their things. All I saw was a bunch of junk mail and old receipts. Just as I was about to close the drawer and get out of Dodge, I noticed a piece of paper that looked like a birth certificate. I stared at it for a minute, debating if I really wanted to look at it. As I grabbed it with my right hand, my heart sank in my chest. I pulled it close to my face and studied it like an exam. The first thing I noticed was the city in which I was born. That section had Chicago, my mother’s maiden name, and my father’s name. The birth certificate seemed legit. It had the official State of Illinois insignia and the words, Certificate of Live Birth, in bold letters. The first section had my name, Eric Douglas Thomas, my birth date and the hour I was born. The second section showed my sex, and the county I was born in. The third line seemed legit as well. It indicated that I was born in Chicago, within city limits. Everything seemed cool until I got to the parent section. First, it listed my mom’s name, her age at the time of my birth, and the city she resided in. From the look of it, my father’s information was correct as well, but something seemed a little strange. My father’s section didn’t even contain the relation to child question. He just signed his name under father’s name. My mom’s section had the question clearly spelled out—relation to the child, mother. The other red flag was the section that asked for their ages. I knew for certain that there was a four-year age difference between my parents. So I did the math, at 18 my mom was living in Chicago finishing school at Dunbar High and my father was in college at Texas Southern playing basketball. Come to think of it, my father was from Detroit, he never even lived in Chicago. So if he lived in Detroit, and my mom lived in Chicago, if she was in high school, and he was in college, they couldn’t have possibly known each other. To make it worse, I already knew they weren’t married at the time I was born. I started to feel light headed and my heart started racing faster and faster and I started sweating. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I started telling myself, “Maybe they were shocked when they found out my mom was pregnant and didn’t know what to do. Or maybe they were too young to get married and needed more time to figure out what they wanted to do.” I tried to come up with every reason I could to justify what was happening. The only thing left for me to do was to call my mom. “Yeah, I’ll call my mom and she’ll straighten all this out.” I picked up the phone and quickly dialed her work number. “Microfilm,” she said in her professional voice. “Mom, I need to ask you a question!” She could tell something was wrong in my voice. “What is it son?” “If I ask you will you promise to tell me the truth?” I said in a real nervous tone. “I promise, now what is it?” she asked. “Is daddy my real father?” The silence penetrated my soul. It might have only lasted for a few seconds, but it felt like minutes. Finally she said, “No son, he isn’t your real father.”
’m a Survivorthat you are out of my life, I’m so much better, You thought that I’d be weak without ya’, But I’m stronger, You thought that I’d be broke without ya, But I’m richer, You thought that I’d be sad without ya’, I laugh harder, You thought I wouldn’t grow without ya’, Now I’m wiser, You thought that I’d be helpless without ya, But I’m smarter, You thought that I’d be stressed without ya’, But I’m chillin’ ---Destiny’s Childthe sun started to set, I got nervous. Although this wasn’t my first time being away from home, it was the first time I left home and didn’t have a clue as to where I was going. The darker it got, the more unsettled I was. Somehow, the anger I felt from the situation that took place earlier between me and my parents vanished. Fear of the unknown had replaced the feelings of anger and any other emotion I had at that time. I felt overwhelmed every time I thought about where I was going to sleep and what I was going to eat. I got nauseous thinking about how long it might be before I had a normal life again. It began to hit me that I never thought the whole thing through. I let my emotions get the best of me. Just as the words, “I shouldn’t have” were coming out of my mouth, I heard my inner-voice say, “Humble yourself and go back home, apologize and deal with the consequences. If you go back, the punishment will be harsh but they will forgive you.” “I can’t, I can’t do it,” I kept repeating. I started scratching my head and rubbing my face to clear my thoughts. I couldn’t believe I allowed that thought to enter my mind. I decided from that point forward, no matter how terrified I was, no matter how lonely I was, no matter how hurt I was or how defeated I felt, I was not going back. I made a vow to myself that day, “Today I will live as a free man and never return home.”this point forward I had to take care of myself. I saw things like this on National Geographic. One day a cub sits by watching the mother lioness intensively staring down its prey, and at the prime moment, attacks, devours, and shares her kill with the cub. A few months later it’s a different situation entirely. The cub routinely follows his mother just as he had in the past. In the back of his mind he’s thinking, dinner will be served in a few short minutes. He watches his mother stare at her prey and wait for the opportunity to attack. Finally, she makes her move and begins to run at top speed. As she approaches her victim, she launches in the air onto the back of her prey and forces it to the ground. Once on the ground, the lioness cuts the victim’s throat with the nails from her claws. As the lioness begins to devour her kill, the young cub moves in closer and waits for his mother to rip off a healthy portion of meat to share, but to his surprise the lioness turns on him as if he were an enemy. In that moment, the cub realizes he must hunt his own prey if he is to eat again.was about 8:45pm—pitch-black, and reality was setting in. I was homeless. The whole day was like a blur and I was in a daze; it was as if I was paralyzed. Every time I thought about moving, the strangest thing happened: when I tried to walk, I was literally stuck. I said to myself, “Eric, you need to go someplace where it’s warm, someplace safe, but every time I tried to take a step forward nothing happened. I heard a voice whisper in my ear, “You messed up real bad this time. What are you going to do now, huh? You just going to sit there and do nothing, is that it?” “Every time you’re in a crunch, like a little punk, you freeze up. You wanted to be a grown man well you are grown now. Ain’t nobody going to bail you out this time!” As hard as it was to listen to those words, I knew they were real. Like the cub, I was on my own. Suddenly, I stood up tall, lifted my head, wiped the tears from my eyes, and cleared my thoughts. By this time it was a little past 9:30 pm, and there were a few things I knew for sure. The weekend was over and I had school the next day; I needed to decide where I was going to sleep and how I was going to eat.don’t’ ever remember a time before this situation that I was eager to be in school. It’s funny how one situation can change your whole perspective. Now, I was eager to get to school in the morning. When I walked out the front door of Lathrup High School that Friday afternoon, school was the last thing on my mind. Other than recess, lunch and track and field, I didn’t care too much for it. I was already pissed off because my parents moved us out of Detroit to the suburbs. One day out of the blue my parents told me that I would not be returning to Detroit Henry Ford High School. They told me I would be attending Southfield Lathrup. I had gone to the neighborhood schools since I was in the first grade, first McKinney, Taft, and then Ford. I couldn’t believe they could be so selfish. What was I supposed to do, just start all over in the 11th grade? Maybe my parents would have been justified; sending me to a new school in my freshmen year, but to do it during my junior year was unacceptable. I had experienced eight years of bonding with friends, and all that went down the drain because my parents wanted to move to the suburbs. Going from a predominately black school to a predominately white school created some unique challenges. There were few black teachers and it was obvious that the white teachers were not accustomed to dealing with black students, especially black males. I was in the principal’s office on a regular basis for either disrupting the class or insubordination. Not to mention the fact that I was having some major academic challenges changing from the Detroit Public School curriculum to Southfields Public School curriculum. Lathrup’s academic pace was ten times faster than Detroit’s. I hardly ever had homework at Henry Ford and rarely had more than one test a week. I had homework on a regular basis at Lathrup and it was nothing for three or more teachers to give tests the same week. I hated everything about Lathrup, the faculty and staff, the academics, and on top of that their athletic program was terrible.three days ago the only reason I wanted to be in school was for the girls, field trips, or a pep rally. Now I couldn’t wait for the doors to open. I needed to get out of the cold and get into a place where I felt safe. But first, I needed a place to lay my head that was in walking distance of my bus route. There was a stop near Melvin’s house, which seemed perfect at first, but I was somewhat leery because my parents knew where Melvin lived and would almost certainly check for me there. “Don’t even think about it,” I said to myself before I could finish my next thought. Have you lost your mind?” I knew it was risky. It would be secluded enough so that no one would know I was there, but close enough to Melvin’s house that if something happened, I could run to his house for help.stood there for a few seconds trying to convince myself that getting up from my spot behind the park to head toward my final destination for the night was worth it. It was more difficult than it sounded because even though it was officially spring, somehow the sun didn’t get the message. Michigan’s weather is weird like that; it might be in the upper 50’s during the day and drop to the lower 20’s by nightfall. The first few steps were hard. The last thing I wanted to do, especially on an empty stomach, was walk another mile. When I first stood up, I couldn’t feel my legs and I was fatigued, but a surge of energy kicked in. I took my hands out of my navy Eastbay lettermen jacket and sped up my pace. I passed the Synagogue on Lahser Rd. and was approaching Melvin’s street, Ivanhoe. I thought about stopping for quick second, but knew I didn’t need to get sidetracked. While walking I couldn’t help but think how in less than 24 hours my whole world had turned upside down. I went from living a middle-class life style, which consisted of having my own room, wearing the latest gear, going to upscale restaurants, traveling every now and again, having my own car, to being homeless. It felt like a bad dream but I knew it was much deeper than a dream this time. After walking more than an hour, I had made it. It had been a long day and I was ready to get some sleep. But something in my spirit was saying take a peek through the window of the house to make sure no one is up. As I had expected, the lights were off and it appeared that my parents were asleep. I figured the backyard of my parent’s house would be the safest place for me to lay my head until I could find some place better. My survival instincts kicked in and I went to my neighbor’s patio and borrowed their sofa cushions from their patio set. There were big bushes in our yard that sat a few inches from the house. I figured if I slept between the wall and the bushes no one would see me. Once my bed was situated, I put my arms through my shirt to keep warm and placed my coat over me. As I lay there trying to fall asleep, I noticed how gorgeous the sky was. It had a deep black coat that made the stars shine brightly. I began to whisper a short prayer. “God, I don’t know if you really exist, but if you do and you can hear me, I need some help. Please keep me safe tonight, forgive me of all the things I have done wrong, Amen.”
“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.”
Starts With You
“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself” - Leo Tolstoyfour long years I dreamt about it, I talked about, I longed for it. I told myself, “Just hold on, it won’t be long—18 will be here soon. By then you will have graduated from high school, moved out of the house, and you will be on your way to college. Once you go to college you don’t ever have to go back home.” I guess I was lucky because my wish came true two years before my 18th birthday. There was only one problem; I left home with nowhere to go. What should have been a celebration of my independence turned out to be a nightmare. How could I have been so stupid? I literally slammed the door and walked out of a four-bedroom, two and a half bath, fully furnished, stocked refrigerator, 2,700 square foot home, and ran into the horrifying emptiness of sleepless nights, begging for food, and eating out of trashcans. Wisdom calls for one to compare what he is giving up with what he is gaining. In my case, I gained absolutely nothing.1: Don’t make a habit out of choosing what feels good over what’s actually good for you.I stormed out of the house that day my father looked me in my face and said, “Eric, you better think about what you’re about to do because if you walk out of this house right now, if you walk out of that door, you’re saying to me that you’re a grown man. So let me make myself clear, if you leave, you will never come back to this house. Do I make myself clear?” I was so fed up with him and the way he treated me that I wasn’t even phased by his statement. I would be the first to admit that when things didn’t go my way I reacted off of anger and emotion. Because of that I landed myself in an awful situation.’s do an exercise. If I told you I would give you 10 million dollars to jump out of a Boeing 757 aircraft with no parachute, what would you say? If you answered no, I am not mad at you. I would have given the same answer at one point in time. “Even though I could really use 10 million dollars right now, it does me no good if I’m dead.” But for those of you who answered no, you would be very disappointed when you found out that the aircraft was not 30, 000 feet above sea level. That’s right, the monstrous machine never left the ground and the jump down would be about 6 feet. Consider all factors before making a decision, ask as many questions as you can about the situation. I have learned over the years that the higher the level of emotion, the lower the level of reasoning. For example, if your emotions are at the highest level of 10, your ability to reason is at a 0. If it’s a 9 then your reasoning is a 1. I am not suggesting that emotions don’t have their place, but taking actions based purely on emotions is dangerous and could cost you everything.
2: Avoid being your own enemy.’s holding you back? You - not anyone else.age 13 Tim was like an older brother to me. He was responsible for helping me earn my “Street Credit.” The process was similar to what is known in the African culture as, rites of passage, or in the Jewish community as Bar Mitzvah. Once a male reached puberty on our block, he officially crossed over into a new world. The first couple years it was all about the bravado and the ladies. Tim stressed this one point, “Don’t ever be the person to start a fight, but you better damn sure finish it.” From that day on until I was about 14, Tim, his brother Wayne, and the rest of guys on the block beat the brakes off me until they felt I was capable of handling my own in a brawl. Of all the lessons Tim imparted on me, he was most proud that he personally schooled me on how to be a lady’s man. He gave me a full anatomy lecture, which included the extended version of the birds and the bees. In addition to the lecture, we watched a few “birds and the bees for dummies” demonstration videos. I think the first few demo videos were, Deep Throat and Debbie does Dallas.’m not sure why I didn’t think to call Tim when the whole thing first went down. I guess I was trying to work things out on my own. It didn’t take long before I realized I was in trouble and needed some help. I called Tim to see if I could stay with him until I got on my feet. “Tim, what up, it’s E.T. I know I haven’t hollered at you in a minute, but I am in a bind and I need you.” He didn’t hesitate, “What you need bro?’ “I need a place to lay my head for a while until I get on my feet.” “What happened? You and your father got into it again?” he said in a disappointed tone. “Yeah, but this time I am not going back, I can’t deal with that mess anymore!” “Where are you now, I am on my way.” Tim lived in his own two-bedroom apartment off Woodward Avenue in the Palmer Park area. Talk about a dream becoming a reality, it was the perfect scenario. Total freedom. I could come and go as I pleased and I wouldn’t have to worry about doing any chores. However, I think Tim envisioned things a bit differently. I remember our first conversation a few days after I moved in. Tim said, “Lil bro, you are a grown ass man now, so I am going to treat you like one. I am going to say this one time and one time only, if you handle your business everything between us will be fine, but if not....” He gave me the look. “Number one, you will finish school and you better not miss one day of school unless you are deathly ill. This is a no skipping zone. Two, I work and I don’t have time to run back and forth to your school because of your behavior. If you get in trouble, you are on your own. Three, I’ll pay the rent, I’ll pay the phone bill, I’ll pay the electricity, but E, I cannot feed you bro. You are going to have to get a part time job so you can take care of your own personal needs. Oh and I am going to need you to find somewhere else to crash from time to time. I can’t have you in the crib when I bring my chicks through. I know it’s a two bedroom, but it’s also a bachelor pad. When you see a red shoestring hanging on the door outside, come back in the morning so you can shower before school.”two months after the conversation, Tim kicked me out. Tim was a police officer, so he was hardly home. With no adult supervision, I reverted back to the old E.T. I had no interest in school so it was a challenge to get up every morning at 5:30 a.m. and getting dressed in time to catch the 6:30 a.m. bus. Some days I pretended I went to school. I got up, got dressed, and hung out in the hood until it was time to come home. I had far less discipline than I did when I lived in my parents’ house and my interest in school was hitting an all time low.3: You can change environments, but until you change yourself nothing else will ever change.had the fresh start I dreamed of when I moved in with Tim. Somehow I thought that shifting addresses would magically change my situation. I ended up taking Tim for granted in much the same way I took my parents for granted. I never washed the dishes or cleaned up after myself. When Tim brought women home the house always smelled like trash and dirty dishes. I was being classic Eric Thomas. Same process—same exact outcome. I got kicked out my parent’s house; I got kicked out of Tim’s house.: Principles 1-3
• Principle 1: Don’t make a habit out of choosing what feels good over what’s actually good for you.
• Principle 2: Avoid being your own enemy.
• Principle 3: You can change environments, but until you change yourself nothing else will ever change.
Do I Start?
“Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.” - Carl Bardwe go into the next few chapters, we’re going to talk about change for obvious reasons. If there is one lesson we can take away so far it’s that change doesn’t happen by osmosis. However, I want to demystify the concept of change. Too often I hear individuals speak about change as if it’s not something that can be attained and that it’s extremely complex. The truth is that change is simple, but it’s not easy. So let me be the first to encourage you. If I can do it, anybody can do it. But remember, the first thing we have to do is stop comparing change to some complex coordinates in the theory of atomic and molecular structure and dynamics. It’s not that deep. As a matter of fact, change is so simple that even a child can do it.4: Learn to be curious., when I look at change and think about the initial process, I think about the genie in the bottle story. The story begins with a scared, angry young man walking up and down the beach. While walking, he notices a beautiful golden bottle. His curiosity drives him to move closer. He bends down and picks up the bottle. Once in his grasp he begins to rub it. To his surprise, “BOOM!” the genie appears. “Thank you for setting me free. For thousands of years I have been trapped inside this bottle waiting to be released to share with someone the secrets to success. And to show you my appreciation, you may ask me for anything, and your wish is my command.”’t miss the message. For many of us our change has been bottled up. I believe within every person is the capacity for change. Furthermore, I believe every individual at some point in his or her life has had multiple opportunities to change. The reality is, many of us do not recognize the need for change or understand the principles needed to create change in our lives. One group of individuals think that they do not need to change and that everybody else needs to change. The second group believes that change is connected to location. If only they could relocate. If only they could move to another city, state, or even country, life would be so much better. We will use the story of the genie to reveal some of the most vital secrets to unleashing the power of change in each of our lives.5: Don’t be afraid to explore your curiosity.if I told you that the first step in experiencing real success does not require any painstaking effort at all? That’s right; the first step in the process only requires a little exploration of your curiosity. Webster defines curiosity as “a strong desire to know or learn something.” I know it sounds too good to be good to be true, but honestly, the day my luck and my life changed for the better had absolutely nothing to do with effort. Before I left home, I was minding my own business, living life the best way I knew how to live it when all of a sudden, I found myself sleeping in abandoned buildings, eating out of trashcans, and stealing food from the local grocery stores. I remember thinking to myself, “I don’t know how I got here, and I damn sure don’t know how to get myself out.” In my distress, a thought popped in my head, “What would have to happen in order for you to get out of this mess?” I spent the next few days thinking just that, trying to figure out in my mind what it would take to get from this point in my life to where I knew I was destined to be.the story carefully, it was curiosity and curiosity alone that drove that scared, angry young man toward the beautiful bottle, and it was the exploration of that desire that caused him to rub it. As a result, the genie was set free and the scared, angry, young man was thrust into his new season. Pay attention to the initial exchange between the young man and the genie. Nowhere in the story does the genie ask for a large sum of money or even a small down payment to activate the change process. Let’s be honest, that is not our experience. Everything costs money. You need money to buy the home you have been dreaming about. It will take money as well to drive that car that you have been wanting off the lot. All the genie asked of him was to make a wish. The genie’s job was not to paint a picture of what the young man’s life should look like for him. The genie understood that the young man’s destiny was already inside of him. He didn’t need a handout; he needed someone to challenge him—to get out of him that which was already inside of him. Everything you need, to get everywhere you need to be, is already inside of you. But without a strong desire, and I stress a strong desire, to know or learn something we will never experience the change we so desperately say we want!6: You have to saddle your dreams before you can ride them.got so excited I sort of gave away the next point, which is my favorite. Ask—ask for anything you desire and your wish is my command. This principle is one of my favorite success principles because it single handedly placed me in a position of greatness. Through this principle I was able to go from rock bottom; sleeping in abandoned buildings and eating out of trashcans to making all my dreams become a reality. The thing I love most about this principle is that all it requires is a healthy imagination. You don’t have to be a genius or intellectually advanced to experience change. In fact, when I began this process over 25 years ago, it was the worst academic year of my life. Remember what I shared? Change requires desire. Once you get to a place in your life where you really want change to take place, guess what? “BOOM!” your genie will appear and say, “Ask of me anything and your wish is my command.”that’s exactly what I did; I made a wish. I remember that day like it was yesterday. Without a dime in my pocket or a place to go, I just sat there and used my imagination. I imagined what my life would be like and what type of things I would have. And even today, I recall those moments as some of the most amazing moments of my life. In those few precious minutes I was no longer homeless. Instead, I lived in a beautiful ranch style home with a loving family, a red picket fence, and it was near a gorgeous body of water. I couldn’t figure out what I was doing professionally, but in some capacity I was helping people help themselves. My life was peaceful and drama free.desire and imagination alone you can begin to live the life you have dreamt of living. Let me explain how the concept works. Your imagination is like a GPS system. In order for a GPS to work, you must first power it on. I don’t care how basic of a model or complex your GPS system is; it does not work if you don’ turn the power switch to the on position. Once you have powered it up; get ready, get ready, get ready. The only thing left to do before your GPS takes you where your heart desires, is to select a POI (Point of Interest) or provide an address. Bottom line, I used my imagination to rewrite the script of my life and began heading in a new direction.’s stop and do an imagination exercise I call, “Can You See What I See?” First, I want you to ask yourself a very important question. What do you want your life to look like? The operative question is what do you want? The question is not, what does your life currently look like? I am not interested in that answer because it has absolutely nothing to do with the price of tea in China.this exercise, I need you to focus solely on what you want your life to look like in the future. The key to this exercise is for you to use all of your creative energy on the rest of your life instead of wasting it focusing on things you cannot change. Note: There are no guidelines or rule to this exercise; it is your life and your imagination. You have the power to be as creative as possible. Remember, this is your life. You are the CEO, CFO, CIO and whatever other O’s I might have overlooked. You are the executive director and the screenwriter of your life, so let’s begin. Here are a few questions to help you start the process.
• Write your role in the movie. Who and what do you wish to be?
• What are your goals and dreams? What time frame do you have for them?
• What would your average day, week or month look like if you were living out your dreams?
• What would be your major accomplishments in 1 year, 5 years, 10 years or more?
• What type of legacy do you wish to leave behind for your family, friends, and society as a whole?
• What type of wealth will you need to accomplish all your dreams?
• What type of information or knowledge would you need to acquire to support your dream?are a million other questions you or I could have generated that would get our imaginations racing. The questions in and of themselves are not as important as your responses. What you envision in your mind, how you see yourself, and how you envision the world around you is of great importance because those things become your focus. They become the reason why you go to bed at 10:00 pm and wake up at 4:00 am. They become the reason why you work two jobs during the day and attend class at night. They become the reason you make the sacrifices you make. In short, the things you desire to do, to have, and to be will provide you with the passion, the purpose, and the drive you need to succeed.is why I say change is not complex. You can have good credit, bad credit, or NO CREDIT at all, and the change you so desperately need in your life can be as real as the sun is bright. The best part of it all is that you do not need a cosigner for change. I don’t care what people say about your breakthrough or what they think about your breakthrough. The only thing you need to get your breakthrough is a strong desire. It starts with you, and it can start as soon as you are ready for it to start. You can activate the process this very moment if you have enough curiosity to ask yourself one simple question, “What would it take to get from where I am now to where I want to be?” Or you can continue to live a life of lack and be envious of those around you who are enjoying every minute of their lives. You don’t need to go to a beach to find the genie in a bottle. Your change is the bottle and all you need to do is be daring enough to rub your bottle and your wishes can become your reality: Principles 4-6
• Principle 4: Learn to be curious.
• Principle 5: Don’t be afraid to explore your curiosity.
• Principle 6: You have to saddle your dreams before you can ride them.
I Move You Move
“A year from now you may wish you had started today.” - Karen Lambdon’t remember much of what I learned in middle school, especially not in science class. However, I do recall doing a lesson that elaborated on the differences between potential energy and kinetic energy. Potential energy is energy that is stored in an object. If you stretch a rubber band, you will give it potential energy. As the rubber band is released, potential energy is changed to motion. Kinetic energy is the energy of motion. A rubber band flying through the air has kinetic energy. When you are walking or running your body is exhibiting kinetic energy. Potential energy is converted into kinetic energy. Before the yo-yo begins its fall, it has stored energy in relation to its position. At the top, it has its maximum potential energy. As it starts to fall the potential energy begins to be changed into kinetic energy. At the bottom, its potential energy has been converted into kinetic energy causing the yo-yo to reach its maximum kinetic energy.on my limited understanding of the scientific terminology used to explain this concept, my hypothesis is that desire and imagination could be classified as potential energy. Both desire and imagination are stored in the mind of the individual and when stretched, both have the potential to position a person for greatness. Individually, neither is capable of producing any real outcomes. Thus having a desire for change and dreaming about change is merely the initial stage of change., what distinguishes potential energy from kinetic energy is eight letters. M.O.V.E.M.E.N.T. And those eight letters that formed the word movement are the exact same entities that separate the stagnant: those who are on the treadmill of life going nowhere fast—running in circles experiencing one defeat after another—from the more progressive—those walking in their anointing; living their purpose; and experiencing victory after victory. Having potential is imperative to success, but there is a time and season for everything. You cannot afford to live in potential for the rest of your life; at some point, you have to unleash the potential and make your move(ment).7: Choosing friends is a matter of life and death.once heard a wise man say, “If you find yourself in a hole, the worst thing you can do is keep digging.” I never thought I would say this, but being homeless turned out to be a blessing. It put me in a position that forced me to rethink some things and change my perspective on life. For instance, living with my brother Tim seemed like the ideal thing to do when the thought of where I would find shelter initially popped into my head. Sometimes you have to be careful what you ask for because you just might get it. Like I said, living with him made sense at the time: it meant security, and it meant not having to worry about having a roof over my head or dealing with some of the other challenges associated with being homeless. But there was one small problem; living with Tim didn’t help change my mentality or my attitude. Homelessness had the opposite effect: it didn’t provide me with the luxuries I was accustomed to when I lived at home, but it sure did change my way of thinking. It lit a fire under my butt that my teachers, my counselors, and even my parents couldn’t manage to ignite.stripped the immature, self-centered, nonchalant attitude right out of me and caused me to take life more seriously. For instance, when I was homeless I approached relationships entirely different. Pre homelessness was all about having fun, nothing more nothing less. I chose most of my friendships based on proximity; my friends lived in the same neighborhood or went to the school that I attended. I had no real formula for choosing the people in my inner circle other than having fun. When I was homeless and didn’t live in a specific neighborhood, choosing friends was an entirely different story. The days of living life like it was a video game were over. In the video game, the outcome of the gamer’s decisions doesn’t matter much. Whether the gamer wins or loses he can always push the restart button and the system will give him a new player and a fresh start. It didn’t take me long to figure out on the street level they weren’t playing any games and that there was no restart button. You pay upfront for every decision. Life was for keeps; I couldn’t start over and there was little to no room for error. I had to grow up quickly. One of the ways I changed my circumstances was to think long and hard about whom I called a friend. Based on my circumstances, I knew for sure one of the qualities I was looking for in a friend was someone who could help me elevate my game. I figured out early that I could “do bad” by all by myself. I had that Kevin Garnett mentality—I wasn’t looking to leave Minnesota, I was just tired of coming up short and needed desperately to surround myself with people who had that winner’s mentality. I tasted my share of defeat, and I wasn’t fond of the taste. I wanted to surround myself with the kind of people who could help me turn my life around; people whom I could rub up against like iron and be sharpened. So my first move toward recovery was thinking methodically about all the people whose paths I crossed that fit that description. It didn’t matter if we went to elementary, middle, or high school together. It didn’t matter if they were black, white, green or yellow. The only thing that mattered was digging myself out of the hole I was in. The more I thought about it, the more one name kept popping up in my head, Robert Earl King, a.k.a. Bob, B. or the R.A.W Babe which was weird because of all the people I thought about I knew Bob the least.met Bob a year before I moved to Southfield Lathrup. We actually went to Henry Ford High School together, but with a student population of more than 2,000 it’s easy not to know all your peers. I met Bob through a mutual friend, Meechie. Meechie and the whole Pierson crew got tired of Braile Street boys spanking that tail in basketball and football every year, so Meechie violated the neighborhood rules and recruited an outsider.street rivalries dated back to the late 70’s. Several rival streets got together during the year and played each other in sports. We called it “Street Wars.” Before everyone started the violent movement of shooting and killing each other, we battled on the court and on the field. Our generation was stacked with talent. Lonzo was a year older than I was and together we were a dominant force, so I didn’t trip when Bob came on the scene because he raised the level of competition and he seemed like a cool guy. On the court, we actually hit it off well, and as luck would have it, we were assigned to the same English class the next school year. Towards the end of the school year we were just starting to develop our friendship when I moved to Lathrup. Once I moved to the burbs, our friendship ended and even though only four miles separated us, I didn’t see or talk to Bob until I thought about him that day.I look back on my life I can say that the single most life altering move (not desire) I ever made was reconnecting with Bob. My relationship with him confirmed what my parent’s had been trying to get me to understand for years. The people you associate yourself with have the greatest influence on your life. Your relationships will either make you or break you and there is no such thing as a neutral relationship. People either inspire you to greatness or pull you down in the gutter, it’s that simple. No one fails alone, and no one succeeds alone.I reconnected with Bob I felt as fortunate as K.G. (Kevin Garnett) when he left Minnesota for Boston. I, too, moved beyond the thought of repositioning myself to actually taking the necessary steps to reposition myself and join a group of men that could help me compete for a championship. Time will not allow me to write about all the ways Bob helped me to climb from the bottom to the top, but I will share six lessons I believe are needed for those of you who are tired of hanging with scrubs and want to be in the winner’s circle.1: Look for people who believe in something and are passionate about their beliefs.to popular opinion, money, position, and power are not the true measure of success—character is the foundation for all real success. Before I met Bob I can honestly say that I never really thought about character, but even at a young age, Bob made character look appealing. He was the only popular Christian I knew and he was one of the best rappers in our neighborhood. He was known for making dudes cry in a capping session and the ladies loved him! Most of the Christians I met in school were lame. Every word that came out of their mouths was Jesus, Jesus and Jesus, but Bob had swag. However, swag was not what drew me to Bob, what drew me to him was the fact that Bob never compromised his beliefs. It didn’t matter who we were with, or where we were, Bob stood for something and did not change his beliefs for anyone. I admired that about him because I knew first -hand how easy it was at that age for a young man to let peer pressure break him. I met so many fake people in high school. On Sunday they were in the front row at church, they sang in the choir, and probably taught Sunday school. They were raised in a good Christian home, but as soon as they walked out of the front door, they tried to act like somebody they were not just to be a part of the in crowd. Bob was just the opposite. I can’t explain the feeling but watching someone keeping it “one-hundred percent” was empowering.made standing up for what you be