Ashley Tucker: Victors Not Victims
“Victors Not Victims”
How many of you know that you are special? I first asked this question to a group of at-risk children. These were the kids that have already had a first chance, second chance and now before they go on to juvenile hall, they have their last chance. The room was filled with black faces. As I asked the question…. I noticed out of 30 children, only two raised their hands. One student rose his hand and quickly put it down the other rose it just halfway and put it down. They both looked embarrassed…. This deeply saddened me.
I began by introducing myself. “Hi, I'm Ashley Tucker. I am an actor, writer, producer, entrepreneur, athlete, and father.” But before I tell you about the movies or TV shows I starred in… First I want to tell you… I am just like you.
The high school children looked at me in disbelief. A few of them even laughed.
I told them that I had a lot of love energy for them; so I would share something very close to my heart. When I was born, I was adopted. That means that someone had me and did not want me. I was discarded… Thrown away. A beautiful black baby boy with no one to love him. I was adopted and given the name Ashley Elton Tucker. I remember my adopted mother taking me back to a foster home to visit…. And while I was there the other kids threw me on a bed and put a pillow over my face and tried to suffocate me…. My mom never took me back there….
I can remember back in grade school the children teasing me over my name and talking proper. I was not cool to speak proper English.
I remember being in 3rd grade and having a third-grade teacher so mean that she would call everybody boy or girl but never by their name. She would beat us with this wooden paddle. The paddle had holes drilled into it and bold red words that read…. “Talk To Me.” I thought that was the worst school year I would ever have.
I remember in 5th grade getting beaten up every day… By multiple opponents… Everyday… At least 2 times a day… The teachers wouldn't help me. They would say, he has to learn to fight for himself. My mother put me in the Cub Scouts and Webelos and Boy Scouts. At one of the scout meetings, my troop tied me to a chair and slowly began cutting my finger until I screamed out in pain. I was teased. I was spit on. I was hit. I was kicked. I was cut. I felt lower than dirt. You might say why didn’t you turn to your family? I have a cousin in Waco Texas that put it very eloquently when he told his friends he's no kin to me…. He was adopted. Even though we were just children those words stuck with me forever. My family was my mother, my grandmother, my grandfather and my 1st cousin Carolyn. Well, my grandmother who loved me dearly died of cancer as I was graduating high school preparing to go to New Mexico State University to play football for the Aggies. While at New Mexico State University my 1st year my grandfather dies. I dislocated my clavicle from my AC joint playing football and had to come home. After my surgery… My mother dies of cancer. And by this time my cousin Carolyn is addicted to drugs and we will no longer speak. Even though I loved her as a sister I couldn't save Carolyn and eventually, she died. I lost what I considered my whole family within a years time of each other. The only reason I was still on this planet… Is because my mom was my best friend and she made me promise that I would stay here. And I told her that I couldn't win this game without her…. This game called life. Talk about painful… Even writing this… I'm crying. I remember being so angry with God. How could God take everyone that loves me? How could he let Carolyn get hooked on drugs? How could he let my little cousins get involved with gangs? And all I could hear was my adopted father saying…. You're not special. You will never make it in acting. You are a knucklehead.
But I said to the school children, it is so funny how we hold on to negative stuff…. I will use the word “STUFF” in place of a more offensive word. But you know the kind of stuff I'm talking about… It is Brown. It is stinky. You know the stuff I'm talking about. But the funny part is, that if I came over to your house and went in your room. And we started talking about the movies I starred in or me getting inducted in Ralph Simpson’s Millionaires Club or me getting my 6° black belt or being invited to walking on to New Mexico State University and getting hurt and coming back home…. You asking me how was it working with LL Cool J or Mystical… How was it starring in the movies? And upon me leaving I left my old jockstrap from New Mexico State on your couch… I left a script and a half eaten sandwich from the set of In The House… I left every karate uniform and belt I ever owned plus awards trophy’s etc… And then I asked the schoolchildren how many of them would have said, it was nice spending time with you… I mean you are a real cool guy Ashley but before you leave…. Take all your stuff with you? All 30 children raised their hands and laugh. And I applauded them and said that’s right because that’s my stuff…. NOT YOURS!!
Now you got my secret! So now the next time someone says to you” you're just like your daddy”, you’re going be fast just like your mama, you'll never amount to much, you're ugly, you're stupid, you're a knucklehead, or you're not special. Now you can say, thank you…. It was nice spending time with you, but before I go…. Here take all your stuff back with you. Because none of this stuff is mine.
And why can you do this? Because we are victors, not victims… Our setbacks just lead us to our comebacks…. And tough people are made in tough times. I was coal but now, a diamond! I was a lump of clay that God has put in the fire and perfected…. And now I am a beautiful and wondrous creation!
And you can tell them that Ashley Tucker gave that to you…
And this one you're keeping.
May my experiences and these words I have written fill you with love, faith and confidence.
For we are more than conquerors!!
May God bless each and every one of you with the life experience’s to be the person He called you to be! Philos, Ashley Tucker