Can an act of kindness and a pair of socks change a life…YES IT CAN!
As a writer, motivational speaker, entrepreneur, radio talk show host, proud father of seven children and married to the most beautiful woman in the world; I’ve worked hard for my blessings and sacrificed for my dreams; but if we rewind the clock over 25 years, the man you know as Y.G. Nyghtstorm was a much different person. I have stated several times in my book “ALL ACTION, NO TALK You Have the Strength to Change Your Life despite Adversity” about my many bouts with depression, P.T.S.D and homelessness. During one of these stints of me living on the streets of Atlanta, my life was forever altered all because of a pair of socks.
The year is 1992 and the streets of Atlanta are frigid. I’m an 18 year old kid that fled from my mother’s house because of all the violence and abuse that was there. I had the misfortune of being the spitting image of my father, and every time my mom saw me, she saw the monster that had abused her for years. There were times when she called me by my father’s name and attacked me violently simply because I looked like the man that had hurt her and abandoned us many years previous. I loved my mother and begged her to stop, but her pain and hatred for my dad was too deep and she continued with the violence. I knew it was time to go when she grabbed a kitchen knife and came after me. I grabbed her hands and begged for her to calm down.
“Mom, stop! Calm down! I’m not dad!” I screamed while pinning her hands down.
“You look just like him! You’re just like your father and now you’re putting your hands on me just like him!” she screamed while struggling to free herself.
“MOM…YOU’RE TRYING TO KILL ME! I had no choice but to pin you down because I don’t want to die!” I replied frantically
“You deserve to die because you look like him. Now get out of my house!”
At that point, there was no turning back. I had to leave my home for my own safety. I love my mom but she had some serious demons in her life and I was not safe. The bitterness that she carried from her abusive marriage with my dad was too great for her to conquer, so I left her house in a tee-shirt, pajama pants and only ten dollars to my name.
As I said, this is during the winter of 1992 and Atlanta can be a very cold city and a death sentence to many people trying to survive on the streets. I used public transportation to get downtown because I figured that there would be resources and people that could help me. My optimism was cut short as I was routinely turned away from shelters because they were too full or only catered to women and children. I had become angry because it seemed like all doors were being closed in my face and these people really didn’t care if I froze to death. The tipping point came when I was begging local fast food restaurants for a job to clean up their bathrooms for food. I didn’t mind cleaning nasty toilets for a combo meal and a few minutes of shelter from the cold. But I was once again turned away and left empty handed. I was frustrated and tired and decided to take a short nap before I tried looking for work again. I was awakened by three rich college students wearing Georgia Tech letterman jackets urinating on me!
“Look at the piss poor black kid…now he’s piss poor for real!”
I quickly jumped up and chased them down the street before I was stopped by the police. They told the officer that I was trying to rob them. I pleaded with the officer and told him that they had just urinated on me. I even showed him that I was still dripping wet from head to toe. The college kids said that I urinated on myself and that I was just lying on them. I was arrested and thrown in jail for a few hours before I was released back on to the streets. Anger spewed from me as I was growing more frustrated and bitter towards God.
“You say that you love me, but my mom was trying to kill me and now I just got pissed on and arrested…are you freaking kidding me!!!”
I was cold and started to realize the possibility that I could actually die on the streets and I became desperate. I had stolen a blanket from an older homeless man and ran like hell till I thought I was safe. Me being new to the streets, I didn’t know about the consequences of robbing other homeless people. I was tired and found a place to lie down and wrapped the blanket around me. But it wasn’t long before several dudes found me and beat me senseless and took the blanket, my socks, my shoes and my last few bucks for themselves. I was too sore to move as I screamed for someone to help me, but no one answered my cry as I lay on the cold concrete.
At this point, I had given up. My body was hurting, I still reeked of urine and I felt that all hope was lost. My clinical depression had kicked in and I gave up on life. I was just going to stay still and hopefully pass out and die in my sleep. I closed my eyes and started to drift off until I was awakened by the engine of a car. I opened my eyes and I saw a classic Rolls Royce idling on the street beside me. An older white gentleman in his 70’s stepped out of it and walked up to me. He looked around and noticed that I was injured and completely alone. I didn’t know what to think and frankly I didn’t care because I was welcoming death at this point. I had heard of all the stories how rich dudes from the suburbs hunt homeless people and kill them all the time knowing the authorities will not bother to investigate. I was kind of hoping he would end my suffering.
“Are you gonna kill me or what? I’m too damn angry to care. My mom hates me and God can care less about me…so just do it already!” I yelled.
He just stared at me and stepped closer with a look of concern on his face.
“Are you cold?” he asked.
“YES I am cold! What the hell is wrong with you?! You think I’m just shivering out here because I enjoy it?!”
He took a deep breath and looked down and noticed that I had no socks or shoes. He then did something that shocked me. He sat down next to me and took off his shoes. He had on a pair of thick, custom argyle socks that looked very expensive. He took off the socks and put them on my feet.
“Young man, someone once gave me a pair of argyle socks when I had nothing many years ago. And that old dude told me that God loved me and that I will one day be successful. All he asked is for me to be a blessing in the lives of others. So, I’m passing these socks to you and just know that God loves you and he will change your life like he did for me. When you become successful, be a blessing to someone else. I would give you my shoes but your feet are too big!” he chuckled to himself as he got up, walked back to his car and drove away.
I didn’t know what to make of what had just happened. All I knew was that the argyle socks were very warm on my feet and I was grateful for his kindness. I started to believe that my life had a purpose and that God really did care about me. It took me a while to finally get off the streets but my passion to push past my adversity was ignited that day and I was determined to never give up again. I regret the fact that I was so caught up in the moment that I didn’t get a chance to thank him but every time I have a chance to help someone in need, I think of how God sent him into my life to be a blessing, so I just return the favor to others. And that is how a pair of argyle socks changed my life and it is a lesson that I will never forget. Times are tough, but may God be a blessing to you as you be a blessing to others and change the world one pair of socks at a time.
Family Leadership Authority