My name is Adam and I'm 21 from Madera, California.
When I was younger, I didn't grow up with my father. He molested my sisters and was abusive. That led to my mom leaving him and going to Corcoran. Afterwards, when I was in the first grade, I went to live with my grandma.
I grew up with my sisters in a strong Catholic home. Life wasn't very good, but it was all right. I had a step dad and there was no abuse anymore. My mom always took care of me and she was into my sports.
Since I was four, I've been playing sports. In eighth grade, Adidas in Mecca and then EKO sponsored me. That gave me opportunities to play basketball around the world, New Jersey at the ABCD Camp and Pump and Run at San Dominguez Hills in LA. I was captain of the basketball team. I was on the varsity team freshman year at both Madera and Clovis East High Schools.
My teachers in the sixth grade and on into high school would help me pass my classes. I would be a teacher's assistant in about three of my classes and they would do some of my homework.
I started doing drugs when my mom told me that I couldn't smoke cigarettes. This led to me smoking cigarettes before practice. When I was in the eighth grade, I started using pot. I'd save my lunch money to buy little 10 pinners.
It began with me smoking pot with my friends because I wanted to fit in and be popular. I began using crystal meth toward the end of my freshman year and I began smoking it everyday in summer school.
My mom would give me money when I had to go to traveling games. She would give me $20. I started buying bigger amounts of pot and that led to crystal meth. I would buy $10 of weed and $10 of crystal meth. I started doing that before and after games. Sometimes I would be too tired. When I wasn't, I would probably do a $20 sack of crystal meth.
When I was working, I would take my check and get an A-ball of crystal meth. I started smoking at the end of summer league to stay up on my game. I thought I was faster. That led to smoking every day when summer league was over.
I started breaking into homes, cars, and stealing from my friends. I stole from my baby sister. It was from her piggy bank most of the time. I stole my mom's $300 camera and my sisters' DVD players. I'd sell things that were mine like clothes, posters, and black lights. It all leads to that. There's nothing more I regret than stealing all that stuff from my sisters.
I lost full ride scholarships to Connecticut, Kansas and San Francisco. I was going to parties and drinking and my mom didn't want me at home. So, I kept staying out at parties and living at my friend's house. I started using drugs and crystal meth in the morning and then at nighttime.
I see all the people on T.V. and in the movies into violence, drugs, and parties. I partied with a lot of girls and guys and we started creating frenzies. I mainly wanted to fit in more than I already was. It was a popularity thing. I was already popular, but I wanted that little extra fame in it.
I wanted to do what everybody else wanted me to do and that was drugs. I wanted to be on top and everybody noticed me as a funny outspoken guy. There was nothing that I wasn't going to do because I wanted to get that extra step on people. I wanted to be ahead of them, but really I was just falling back.
I felt I needed the approval of other people because they were my feedback. They were the audience. At the basketball games, everybody would cheer for me. They'd cheer A.J., A.J., A.J. That's the same thing I heard when doing drugs. Everybody saying A.J., A.J., you've got to do this. You've got to smoke this pipe.
In the eighth grade, I began getting sponsorships. That led to more fame and popularity and I didn't know what to do with it. I wanted more of it, but I didn't know how. The only way I thought I could get more was by doing more drugs and partying. It only led to more failure and brokenness. I couldn't understand why I was still feeling so empty. All the drugs kept holding me back from where I needed to be.
I thought I could handle it, but I couldn't. I thought I had a schedule for myself, but the drugs were scheduling me. I thought I could do them periodically, but it led to me doing them every day.
Drugs cost me losing my kids. I lost two cars and went to jail. I got into fights and got stabbed. It cost me my scholarships and friends I thought I had. They weren't friends really, just an audience to see me fail. Most importantly, I lost God and my family.
What brought me to the point of change were my kids. I didn't want to be that low person anymore. I was tired of all the fame; I couldn't get nothin' right. Drugs just weren't it no more.
I didn't want to live that life anymore. I didn't want to be in with the violence. I didn't want to be seeing all the things I saw like drive by's or people on the floor bleeding. I didn't want to see one of my friends on the ground dead or hold them while their blood poured all over my arms, lap, and shirt. I didn't want to see any of that. I no longer wanted to look in the mirror and see myself with bruises or in the hospital.
What led me to Teen Challenge were all the beatings I took mentally, emotionally and physically. After going to jail, I finally I wanted to know what my purpose in life is. I only know that's through God. I came to Teen Challenge to change my life and to get my kids back. I also want to get my scholarships and sponsorship back so I can go back to school and try to go overseas.
This program has helped me by reconciling me with my family. I can talk to my son and daughter now. My son's seven months and I got to hold him. I have more opportunities for school. I can get my scholarships back by getting my GED in here. I get to see the better person in me.
Teen Challenge to me means a time for change, a time to get everything back in my life that I lost, a time of reconciliation. To me, Teen Challenge means growth.