Meet Scottie….

Scottie grew up a regular kid in a middle class home on the West End of Richmond. Despite the fact that his mother was a heroin addict, he had a good relationship with his father and stepmother who made sure he was provided for. He played at Byrd Park on sunny days, had good grades, and even played high school football. He was an occasional marijuana smoker, but it was never so serious that he got in trouble. When he was growing up, he really wanted to be a Secret Service agent, so he signed up to serve in the National Guard and then the Army to get his foot in the door. At the age of 17, a few weeks before basic training began, Scottie was involved in a series of unfortunate events. That summer, he was stabbed in the chest 16 times by an acquaintance which caused him to suffer a collapsed lung. Due to his injury, he was discharged from the military and was told he could reapply again in a year, but working and partying got in the way and he never reapplied. After this, the injury sparked a lot of negative behaviors, including seeking revenge on the man who stabbed him, which ended up in an assault charge. The incident put him in a bad place and he developed a poor outlook on life.

He still smoked marijuana during his recovery which exacerbated his symptoms and became the gateway for harder drug use. Scottie began selling powder cocaine by the time he was in his early twenties, but curiosity got the best of him and he became a daily user himself. By the age of 24, he was battling an addiction to crack cocaine which lasted for about 30 years. It was also around this time that his mother passed away of a heroin overdose. The pain of losing his mother and his anger at the world further contributed to his continued poor decision making.

In order to support his habit, Scottie began shoplifting from local stores. He learned the “art of stealing” from “professional” thieves who would steal from high end shops. Scottie says that “it is the easiest thing for an addict to do: to steal things,” which is why so many grand larceny charges in the United States are the result of addiction.

His crack habit got so bad that it cost him $200-$300 per day, which he would fund through shoplifting and selling drugs. This lasted for about 3 years. When he was using, he would only make enough money to go buy more drugs and alcohol. It wasn’t until after his many incarcerations for probation violations that he would finally find the help he needed.

Since the age of 18, Scottie has served between 15-20 years behind bars. He says he has lost track because he has had so many sentences but he would say he has been incarcerated about 15 separate times for violations stemming from his crack addiction. His last stint, a violation due to crack use, was the one that changed his life. While incarcerated at the Richmond City Justice Center, Scottie was introduced to the REAL Program by a friend who was also incarcerated. He attended the REAL program in the jail, graduated, and when he was released he became a client at REAL LIFE, in addition to a participation in Richmond’s Drug Court Program.

In 2018, Scottie was released from jail for the last time. He spent 30 days in transitional housing, and then came to the REAL House where he lived for five and a half months before finding his own housing. On conditions of his release, he attended drug court twice a week (where he recently graduated) and works at Zaxby’s. At Zaxby’s, he started as a dishwasher, and within a year has been promoted to General Manager and runs his own store. He is a busy man, but he still finds time to give back to the REAL community as an alumnus. When asked about how REAL LIFE has affected his life, he said “it made me really listen to what people had to say which helped me make sense of my insecurities and anger.”

Scottie just celebrated two years of sobriety on May 26 and shortly after that got engaged to the love of his life! If you were at the Gala, you heard him speak!