Prior to becoming a ward of the State in 1995, I was living with my mother and grandmother in a one-bedroom apartment around Northeast, D.C.. My mother was a single parent with three children. When I was young, I was separated from my two sisters, who ended up being adopted by other families. I was the only child left to see my grandmother die from cancer in 1996 and to see my mother become a serious drug addict. 

My mother and I walked the streets of D.C. every night bumming for change, not for food or shelter but for crack. The only meal we could afford was packaged noodles. I became so sick from eating those noodles all the time. When I did not eat noodles, I did not eat at all.  

I didn’t even start school until I was six years old because I was always in the streets with my mom. She was so dazed from the drugs she couldn’t even help me with my homework. By the time I was eight years old, I was selling crack myself and was also dropping in and out of school. A year later I was finally removed from my mother’s care and met my first social worker, who placed me in my first foster home. 

A year after being placed in my first foster home, I was moved again, to be placed in kinship care with my cousin. Living with my cousin was like being an adult at a young age. I always had to cook, clean, and babysit. It all had me depressed. There were times when I wanted to run away from all the drama. There were times when I just wanted to kill myself over all the pain I was going through. So, I went back to hustling with my mother and chased the block.  I also started smoking marijuana and stopped going to school. I did not realize the importance of school at that time, because my goals were to make fast money to survive on my own.