Growing up in Baltimore, I was a witness to poverty and hopelessness, which gave me the drive to succeed and be above the norm. I never understood poverty. It literally scared the shit out of me as a child. Even at five years old, I knew it wasn’t normal. I would ask myself “People actually like to live like this? Living in a neighborhood full of abandoned homes, trash, roaches, and rats?” I grew up in the city, but we lived in a fairly decent neighborhood. Other areas of Baltimore was the true definition of Hell On Earth. I always thought I would be shot.
You should’ve seen my poor little face whenever we went to visit family members in the projects. I was always terrified. We would get on that pissy elevator to the 15th floor. It shook the entire time, and the lights would blink on and off; Kind of like a haunted building. On the weekends, my mother would say, “Ok we’re going downtown to Lexington Market!” If you lived in Baltimore in the 90’s, then you knew Lexington Market was junkie central. I used to beg my mother to NOT take me with her, but she insisted anyway. I wouldn’t get off the bus. She had to literally pull me off the bus! And I cried my little heart out the entire time we were down there. I was scared every time we walked past a junkie. It was like The Walking Dead, and they were the real life zombies. It was dirty, and the smell was horrific. (more…)