Cadet Thomas

"The Way It Was and How I Saw It..."

   I was born on August 24, 1984 in Chicago, IL. I have two sisters, Larhonda Thomas and Laporscha Snipes. My mother (Jeanette Thomas) was a single parent who struggled to provide for my sisters and I. My father was a deadbeat who came around every blue moon.

   I grew up on the westside of Chicago and attended Austin Community Academy. Growing up in Chicago was hard but it had some cool points at times.

   I was known as a street thug and did not have very much respect for others or authority officials. I was staying out late, drinking, smoking, constantly getting locked up and giving my mom to many late night calls from the police. I worried my mom sick and she was afraid that one of those phone calls could be a death call. It came true on the night of Sep, 13 00. It was not a death call but it was close. I was shot in the chest while walking with one of my guys. It was gang related. I lost a lot of blood and my mom thought that I was not going to make it. I was released from the hospital in two days and my mom told me that God gave me a second chance in life.

   Since I was kicked out of school and my life was headed no where, my mom recommended that I attend the LCA / Lincoln's Challenge Academy. My sister attended the academy and she said that it would help me get a GED, keep me off the streets and give me a start towards a better future. My mom said it was up to me and I accepted the challenge.

   When I first arrived it was tough but I had to take care of my business. I was put on TM 8 and at that time, we had over 80 cadets. People were quitting left and right and soon we had 42 cadets, the Untouchables. I was giving a birthday party along with other cadets who birthdays were in Aug.

   As the days flew by more mail came and the more mail I got the more problems I got. I received a letter from my mom with an obituary of one of my guys in it. It contained an emotional letter that said, "most of my guys were being killed or locked up." I also had problems happening at home.

   I found myself very depressed, mad and started taking it out on other people. My team leaders talked to me as a friend and like a father I never had. I learned after awhile to control my problems and things became clearer for me. It was hard for me to adapt to my team and it was hard for them to adapt to.

   As the days flew by, we had many team problems, but we learned to act as a team, trust, respect and be there for one another. We became a chain and nothing can tear us apart.

   Making this choice of coming to the LCA was hard but it was the right choice and now I can see a future for me.

Cadet Thomas

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