I guess I should start with where I came from. I grew up in a very small town, living in the back woods of Epsom, New Hampshire. I am the youngest of a very big but poor family. Being much younger than the rest of my siblings, they never really wanted to hang out with me and my parents were always at work. So I spent most of my time alone at home when I wasnt at school.
During that time I started to watch WWE on television. And I instantly fell in love with the action. I thought it was the coolest thing. I became borderline obsessed with it at 11 years old. I would watch The Rock slam people with his famous "Rock Bottom" and I would take this giant teddy bear I have had for years and practice all these moves I saw on the T.V.
I just loved wrestling and would try to have wrestling matches with my older brothers all the time. They would win most of the time. But one day I was wrestling with my brother and I wrapped up his leg and yanked on it and I guess it worked because he yelled out that it hurts and that I won. No clue what I did but it seemed to work. So every time we wrestled after that, I would go for that move!
Time hop 3 years later. 14 years old, freshmen year of high school. I was failing all my classes. Didn't care about school. Didn't care about anything really. Just wanted to be cool. So I got into a pretty bad crowd. Before I knew it I was 14 years old, getting high, selling drugs. I didn't think much of it but my life was going in a very bad direction and no one could get through to me to stop me. I was lost.
Months went by of skipping classes, skipping detentions. Avoiding the teachers who were looking for me after school. I didn't want them to find me. All they did was yell at me and it made me go against them more. May I mention, my parents did not really care or pay attention to my schooling. So they had no part in trying to guide me off that path either.
One day I got called into the office and Mrs. Heon one of the higher ups in our school was there waiting for me. She gave me a very long lecture about how bad I was messing up and that I was going no where. It made me very upset and I didn't want to hear anymore. I was frustrated and on the brink of tears when the man who changed my life walked in just to drop some papers off to the office and saw the situation.
It was Mr. Denslow. Who I now call by his first name Noah. He was the one who ran 5th block. A.K.A. Detention. He sat me down and was very calm and respectful to me. So I was able to open up to him. I remember him saying this, "Look, you don't want to get sent to night school. Those kids can't even remember their names. You're not one of those kids." It really made me wonder: "Why did this guy care about me? No one else did."
So I listened to him. And he told me I should Join the BJJ Club they had going on. Despite my love for wrestling and MMA I would see them drilling, warming up, doing awkward looking hip bumps on cheerleading mats in the cafeteria and I would pretend like it was weird because all my friends would make fun of it. We all know BJJ looks kind of funny to someone who doesnt know anything; just 2 guys rolling around with eachother. I took him up on his offer.
The next day I got on the mats after school. I didn't know anyone there. It was all upperclassmen. The smart Straight A students. and they just looked at me like I was a little wannabe gangster, which in reality I was.
We got on the mat and I saw Mr. Denslow and Mr. Willey. Denslow was our History teacher and Willey taught Economics. Denslow was a blue belt, and Willey a Brown belt at the time. I didn't have a gi, of course, but I remember drilling americanas from sidemount and then rolling.
My first roll was with this girl. She was about my size. Not wanting to make it akward I just didnt think about that she was a girl and did whatever I could to beat her. Now the cool thing is: I did beat her. During the scrambling mess that was my rolling style, I somehow became attached to her leg, in the same way I used to get on my brother years before. And I squeezed and got the tap.
Denslow was very surprised. That move I "created " ended up to be a straight Achilles Ankle lock. Which I have since adjusted and made into a legitmate weapon in my arsenal. This was the day that changed my life. I had a lot of fun. I instantly fell in love and wanted to do it every day. But before I could, I had to get my grades up.
It took me less than a week to turn in all my missing work and start passing my classes. That's where the dream started. I wanted to make this my life. I wanted to be a BJJ world champion. and someday even a UFC Champion as well. I stopped hanging out with those bad kids so much. Stopped doing drugs. My life totally made a 180.
I trained about 3-4 times a week for a year then the teachers had to give up the BJJ club. They were offered jobs at other highschools that they couldn't turn down. I was upset but not about to let that stop me. So me and a couple friends would train in my yard all the time. At 16 years old, we would stay up until 5am playing xbox. Go for a 3 mile jog. Then train for hours. We were nuts. We werent that good. But we sure did have heart.
Eventually, I got myself to get into a real gym. A Robert Drysdale affilate. I trained a few times a week while in school still. I became the 2nd person in my family of 8 to ever graduate high school and it was all because of BJJ. I got my blue belt from 6 time world champion, Robert Drysdale and I started training full time. I knew this is what I wanted to do for life. 17 years old and skipping parties, hanging with my friends, sacrificing relationships, just to train BJJ. A total turn around from my old ways.
Now I am 19 years old. I was teaching BJJ at a small MMA school for about a year and competing at every competition I could get to: Toronto, Long Beach, Miami, Boston, anywhere. I started to become a well known face in my local BJJ community and before I knew it I had made my mark. I was getting messages from kids my age telling me how much I inspire them to train and go out and compete even though they're nervous. And I started to see that I was an inspriation to people.
I had always wanted to be the best. but why? just to be the best I guess. But this gave me more than that. Now my goal with BJJ is to inspire people to follow their passions. Live life how they want. 19 years old and my ambitions are to change the world. I want to give back to this community that changed my life so much for the better.
A year ago I decided that If I was ever to make it big, I had to take a big change and start getting even more serious about my training. I decided I was going to move to San Diego, California to train with the world famous Atos Jiu-Jitsu Competition team. One of the greatest teams in the world.
So I got down and worked a lot for a year saving money. and 5 months ago I made the move. I have never lived on my own before, But I made my first move. 3000 miles away I moved out to SoCal with $900, with no job, no friends. I found a sketchy roommate on Roommates.com and rented a couch in this old man's apartment. I'm actually on the couch right now, he's over there ironing his clothes. He's kind of strange but oh well. Whatever it takes.
It took me a week of filling out 30-40 applications to find a job. I now work part time at Jamba Juice, and train full time at Atos Jiu-Jitsu. I bike 7 miles to training every day, twice a day for Competition class and night class. It has definitely been a struggle but it is worth it for sure. I get messages on facebook all the time from people I hardly know telling me to never give up and they are so inspired by what I'm doing for myself. That is my motivation to never stop.
If you are still reading all of this I really do apologize for such a long-detailed story but I am also very appreciative of you taking the time to read this. Now you might be wondering. "Okay well this is a nice story. But where is the big success story?"
Though I have not reached my goals of BJJ world champion just yet. I do think I am very successful in comparision to my past. I have overcome the blue print lifestyle that we are told to follow. I have gotten out of the downward loop I was in years ago. I went from a drug user, to a full time athlete with high ambitions and a large following. I went from living in a run-down trailer in Epsom, NH to hanging out on Pacific Beach in San Diego on the weekends.
I took inititative and worked hard to start living the life I want to live. Now if that isn't success. I don't know what is. And don't worry There will be some world championships to come. The future looks very promising for me here.