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Marcus Patterson was twelve years old when he was first pushed out of school and cut off from the resources, activities, and community he needed to thrive as a kid. Now, after years of surviving the youth incarceration system then the adult system, Marcus is an active member of FFLIC’s Lake Charles chapter and tireless advocate for systems change and youth empowerment. Read his story below: 

When I was a child, I loved sports — I played football, basketball, and baseball. I knew that I wanted my family to have a better life, and I was motivated. I was introduced to all kinds of things, but none of that mattered because I loved sports, and basketball was my favorite. I could be sick, but when it came time to play basketball, “I’m healed.” Until one day my life changed. I got expelled the week before basketball tryouts in the 6th grade for someone turning in drugs to the principal that he said he got from me. There was no one there to help for cases like that — it was get expelled and go to jail. There was no one to talk with me and my parent to try to solve the matter before they sent me to jail. Now my life is changed forever. 

I ended up locked up, then got out, then went to the hospital, and then back to the hood. But the next year I was back at school, better than ever. 7th grade went by, and I was blessed but frustrated by not playing sports. They had a rule that if you were expelled you couldn’t play sports the following year. Now my mother was doing her best to take care of 4 kids herself. I truly can’t remember what kept me going at the time.  I was finally able to play basketball again in 9th grade, but I had to keep my grades up. I missed so much school when I was expelled I didn’t know how to do some things. I tried to write a report on “Great Expectations,” but the teacher kept throwing it out because it was wrong. But no one showed me how to do it right. I gave up. 

As I got older, I started looking back on life, wondering where I could have been if I had been given another chance. If I had a chance to keep going forward in something I love, I would have learned from my wins and losses. I sit back and think a lot of “what ifs”, so I want to thank God for having me alive today to help save lives and for using me to help others so they won’t have to go through the same thing I went through.