Untitled-4.jpg

[Laughs] This is how I would be. You did a good job. It looks good man. It makes me want to take my tattoos off. My family did not approve of it.  All of my tattoos are gang related. I looked up to my older brother when I was a kid. He did not overdo it though, just here and there, but I just started getting more and more. I am done with the gangbanging, I am done with all this stupid nonsense. The last time I was in prison I had my girlfriend that I had been with for ten years, she left me, I felt depressed, I thought she did not care about me anymore, so I was like, “You know what? I am going to get tattoos on my face.” Now every day I wake up I regret it. I wish that I could go somewhere and get my tattoos just lasered off in a day, but I know it takes time. I got them all in prison. I did my whole face five years ago, I did it in one day. The next morning was the day that I was going home. 

When I got home no one recognized me. They were like, “What happened to you?” I just said I fell asleep and I woke with tattoos on my face. I have not seen my father for over 26 years. My grandparents, they did not say nothing. I could see it in them, they want- ed to ask me, “Why would you do that?” but they never sat me down to question me or anything. But, then again, I was already older. The tattoos on my face represent my area, like the one I have on my cheek it says, “Hill People.” Where I was raised we all lived up on a hill, my neighborhood is in the hills. And the other writing is my ex-girlfriend’s nickname, “No Shame.” I have known Father Greg since I was six years old, through my aunts and uncles. They grew up in the projects where Father Greg started his community and had a bakery before it burned down in 1996. I started to go to jail, I started to go to juvenile hall, and from there I started to go to prison, and I was like, “You know what? It is a time to where I am getting old,” a time where I just wanted to say, I am done.

 
When I was young I wanted to be a police officer. That is all I thought about, that is all I dreamed about. When I lost my mother from cancer, from there I just followed my older brother. Wherever he went I went, whatever he did I did, whatever he got I got. We grew up rough you know? My mom was into drugs, my brother he got to stay with my grandparents when my mom was still alive but I could not stay with them. I was scared. Every time she would walk home drunk she would hit us, beat us. The only time that we could spend time with my grandparents was the weekends. We used to run away. I have been in foster care, but I was not just going to leave my mom because she got sick. We knew that she had cancer so... 

She stopped and calmed down, and everything after that was perfect, we did a lot of stuff with my mom before she left us. When she did leave us our grandparents took custody of four of us. There are actually seven of us altogether, five brothers and two sisters. When my mother passed away, a year later I lost a younger brother. Not to the gangs. There are only two of us in the gangs, the other ones all have good jobs and everything, and my sisters, they are all normal too, they are not in the gangs, just me and my older brother. 
I am trying to get my brother to give it up, you know? I cannot force him, he is his own man. If you are a man you have to stop when you want to stop, you know? It is an addiction, a drug, and we cannot help you unless you are ready to get help. For the rest of the interview to be found in the book.