This I Believe

Jonathan - Los Angeles, California
Entered on June 18, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
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I believe a person deserves a second chance, a chance for a better future. I was twelve years old when I was in a gang and used drugs. I was in middle school when I thought I knew it all. I couldn’t see the mistakes I was making and gradually my future was vanishing.

Everything bad began in seventh grade, when a fellow student offered me marijuana. He asked me, “Want to try it?” Puzzled I responded, “Okay,” and I took the drug. When I tried it, I felt like I was in a different world, a world that in my life I had never visited. My “friends” said they had my back, but they were anything but friends. These “friends” just wanted me to turn into one of them, a drug addict without a future. I started to believe that nobody was important; that I had it all. I wore baggy pants and loose shirts that turned me into someone I was not. Because of them, I did not care about anything or anyone, only about my so called friends. I turned out to be one of them living a life of fear and always in danger.

Deep inside I knew I was doing something wrong, but I couldn’t figure it out. I started skipping school, did worse drugs than the previous ones, and most importantly, I started losing my family. My mom is one of the most important people in my life. She always trusted me and was always there for me regardless of the situation, but that all ended in middle school. One day, she went searching for me in school. I was outside in a park ditching school without a purpose. When I arrived home, she asked, “Where were you today?” In fear I respond to her, “I was in school!” Obviously, she did not believe me, and from that day on, my mom’s interactions with me changed.

My mom started to pick me up and drop me off at school. The trust that was there had vanished and deep inside I knew it was going to be hard to regain her trust. I tried to get away from drugs, but it was hard for me. At lunch I started playing basketball rather than hanging out with bad influences, which started the change in my life. As I left middle school and transitioned to high school, I realized that those people I hung out with were anything but friends. In fact these people were obstacles that I had to overcome.

I have a better life now, a life where I have my mom’s trust and can live in peace not only with true friends, but with family as well. Basketball is my anti-drug. When I step into the court, I feel like I am in a better a world, a better world than the one I had experienced before. When I play basketball, I play it with all the courage I possibly can and with all the respect I have for the game. I apply that same respect to myself, which prepares me for today and for the future that is yet to come. A person does deserve a second chance, just as I did. This is what I believe.