Next week, I’ll be visiting our State Capitol along with other NFL players to talk to lawmakers and policymakers about the state of criminal justice reform, with a special emphasis on lobbying for the Clean Slate Act, which I’ve written about here before. Twice before, I’ve joined my fellow football players on trips to Washington, D.C.
She was 5’5, a full head of black hair like silk, skin the color of cocoa beans, she glistened in the glory of the world, regardless of the hell that it gave her. She was a force to be reckoned with. Full of attitude, edge, confidence, the closest thing to a role model I had.
She could’ve been anything. So she chose to be Army strong. At the tender age of 18, she left the nest for the first time. This was all that she knew, and the Army was the only way out, from her point of view. “Uncle Sam is going to make a woman out of you,” said my grandmother.
I remember crying tears of joy when we met her again in Virginia for her basic training graduation. It had been 16 long weeks. I couldn’t stop the tears from falling. It was only the second time I had ever seen my grandmother cry (the first was when my sister left). We were so proud, and we missed her dearly.
That was the last time I would see the sister I knew then.
Ten years later, her fragile frame holds only about 100 pounds. What was once lean muscle is now loose skin that hangs away from the bone. Deployed twice to Afghanistan, Iraq, she was a tough girl, and a fighter. But even the tough girl was no match for the stressors of war, Continue reading My sister’s struggle: A mentally ill veteran behind bars