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My mom always told me one of the most important words you should use to guide your life is “perseverance.” If you persevere, then you can and will achieve your goals.

My father taught me that nothing is impossible. Never say “can’t.”

So when I came up against anything like a girl I really wanted to know, I just put my foot forward and spoke my heart and mind. But I approached my life of crime the same way. I told myself I could do it. I never thought small.

Let’s face it I was a child locked up at eleven or twelve. Fear has always been a part of my life – I would mess a dude up. But I don’t believe anyone who says they have no fear, they are a fake.

When I was nine years old, I was going to be a barber. In class I stood on boxes to cut hair because I was so short. There was an ounce of fear there – I didn’t want to mess up. But Mr. Johnson told me the only person holding me back was me. “Never let these clippers or shears scare you from being you.”

After that I gave mean cuts, at one point I had a planet full of customers.

But your mind can play all of kinds of games with you if you slip up. I’m a real bipolar case at times. But determination and

perseverance means to simply keep your mind on a desired outcome. It is the first step to a successful end, but determination means nothing without the discipline. Our dreams are real if we want them to be.

I also wanted to sing. Me and my brother Twin taught each other how! I can stop a room full of people when I’m really feeling it. That’s one of our dreams that came true.

One must have the dedication to stick with what you are doing to get what you want. Be that person you see yourself to be. Like Nike, “just do it.”

If you get to where things are difficult and can’t find your way, don’t ever be afraid to ask for help. It takes an adult to do so. Always think ahead, but don’t forget the past — it can bring about a better future.

We are raised to believe that it is a sign of weakness to display any kind of fear or emotions; that you can’t trust most people. But trust yourself and all will come to light. Only when I unloaded some of the weight I was carrying could I focus on my prize. Regardless of the circumstances you have been in, you must move on.

One also needs concentration. You need to be about your work and not get caught up in the sound effects of life. In the long run, you will be amazed by what you have achieved and you will be able to look back on how you overcame tremendous barriers.

I know now that I could not choose the circumstances that put me where I was. Although I wasn’t free physically, my mind was

free to face other parts of life’s challenges. Maintain your focus and remain humble to Self first, then others around you. But keep the prize in sight and work at it diligently. Have a hunger to push forward.

Don’t stop, not even for Self.

Another important ingredient to perseverance is surrounding the Self with loved ones. I don’t have friends. Friends can and will cross you. I know, one did it to me. I went to jail because of that person. But really not for him, but for Self. I got caught. And I have a code of ethics that I was taught to live by, so a lot of it was on me. I should have known better than to get near that person again.

Loved ones, are the people that are really important to me. They are part of who I am, and they support my endeavors. I can’t begin to tell you about everyone, but I have to give a shout out to Gretchen, Maisha, Wallace, Curtrice, Emily, Tammie, Waleska, Delorse, Ranada, Avery, Chris and Leila. They have been a big inspiration to me. I should also thank all those that taught me through falsehoods, trickery and deceit. It all hurt, but it also made me reach my goals and never fall back or fall for them again.

Then there are people like Gemma, who stole my love for the first time in my life. It took me many nights to get her out of my head and look at her from another point of view. But I realized she expected me to fail in life. It’s nice to be nice, but I had to get back to the grind and keep my eye on my prize. I love being the

underdog in any situation. I love proving the Gemma’s in the world wrong. I’m the only one who is really not surprised when I persevere and accomplish my goals.

My motto is simple: no one can tell me that I can’t succeed. The only true limitations in life are the one’s our minds set for ourselves. For some, the road to success is merely based on taking advantage of opportunities that you provide for yourself. For those with no dreams to go after, the road is much more difficult. In my life, I’ve found success at the end to be much sweeter.

I had to go to work when I six and did not have the knowledge, which I found to be oh so powerful when they knocked me down. But knowledge made me get back up, because in my mind I knew I could really do what I wanted to. And there has been nothing sweeter than stealing victory from the jaws of defeat.

When Twin and Ma-Lou passed, that was the lowest point of my life. Because I was in jail, I couldn’t do anything for them. That’s what hurt. Jail I could deal with.

It hurts when one has failed to stay free repeatedly because he had nothing

Twin and Ma-Lou were my world. Then Gemma came into my life and took that world, distracting me from my goals. Yet I’ve built myself back up. I will always love her, but I can’t stop for Self. If you can see a dream, then you can touch it. Stay motivated at all times.