This is the story of a young man with a troubled past who has a bright future; not only a bright future for him, but for students in the classroom where he teaches.
Tommie Mabry of Jackson was a tough kid growing up in a tough neighborhood.
"I mean just doing different things, trying to fit in," said Mabry. "From house burglaries or just doing little things that wasn't big at the time. But I had a judge to tell me in five years I'd be dead or locked up. And you'd think that would stop me right then, but it didn't."
What became Tommie's wake up call was when the one thing that had given his life meaning, basketball, was taken away from him. It happened one day when he cut school.
"I left school, went to the neighborhood and just sitting, just having fun and got shot in my foot," said Mabry. "Then the worst thing I ever had to do was hear that doctor say now that basketball is over with, what are you now? and my answer was, nothing."
In the process of trying to sort out his life, Tommie Mabry also rediscovered church. And his faith gave him a new direction.
"And I read a scripture that I go by every day that says that he is inside of you is greater than he that is in the world," said Mabry. "And what that told me was, whatever I do on this earth physically and mentally, my soul is perfect. If my soul and my spirit is perfect, why can't I be great?"
His foot eventually healed enough to get several basketball scholarship opportunities for Tommie, which lead to college graduation. He's the first in his family to do so.
His dad, Tommie Mabry, Sr. is rightly proud of him.
"He broke that curse on our family," said Mabry, Sr.
And Tommie's mother Regina still remembers the days of the calls from teachers telling her that Tommie couldn't come back anymore, while she points proudly to the wall of honors her son has been given.
Now Tommie Mabry teaches at Whitten Middle School in Jackson, one of the schools he was kicked out of when he was a student.
"I want to give a child something to dream about other than the streets," said Mabry. "I want to give them an outlet and an outlook on life and show them that you can make it. There is not an expiration date on success. Never use a situation around you for an excuse not to succeed. I give it my all when I come to work because I want to see a guy make it."
And not only is Tommie a college graduate and a teacher, but now a writer, penning his story in the book, 'A Dark Journey to a Light Future.' And is making a difference in the lives of countless students who can learn from his mistakes, and successes.
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