No. 4: Without Control, Strength Can Become Weakness
Between the ages of 14 and 15, training went well for Dwayne. By the time he entered high school he had grown to a towering 6’4″ and tipped the Toledo at 225 pounds. This gave him a healthy dose of self-confidence—and even a degree of arrogance. But for all the focus and discipline he showed in the gym, his unstable home life left him directionless outside of it.
“I was running around and getting in trouble a lot. I was arrested multiple times for a multitude of things, from fighting to a theft ring to check fraud to more fighting. I did a lot of stupid s**t and struggled to stay on the right path.”
Then, when he was 15, came what he calls his “trifecta”—a trio of cataclysmic screwups that brought him to the brink of a failed life.
“First, I got arrested. My parents came down to the police station and picked me up, and I recognized that despite the fact that we were living paycheck to paycheck, I was the biggest source of their stress. And in that moment I thought, ‘I don’t ever want to disappoint my parents again.’ So I said to myself that I was going to stop getting arrested.”
He managed that, yet couldn’t keep out of trouble. The next day he was expelled for getting in a fight and knocking out the other kid. When he returned to school two weeks later he found a new way to be classified as a “troubled youth.” Deciding that the students’ bathroom at Freedom High School in Bethlehem, PA, wasn’t good enough for him, he did his business in the teachers’ bathroom.
“In walks this teacher, who takes one look at me and says, ‘Hey, you can’t be in here. You’ve gotta go.’ Well, I was a complete d**k to him. I’m washing my hands, and I look over my shoulder and say, ‘Yeah, in a second,’ and I continue washing my hands. Then he pounds the door with his fist and yells, ‘You gotta get the f**k out of here, now!’ And what do I do? I dry my hands and brush past him like a real asshole punk kid. And he’s steaming.
“Here was a guy who was absolutely willing to fight me, as big as I was, not because he wanted to hurt me, but because he cared.”
No. 3: See the Signs Around You
That night, when he went home, Dwayne felt pangs of guilt running through him like the pain from a deadlifting session gone wrong. As opposed to the eight or nine times he’d been arrested and his multiple expulsions from school, this time he couldn’t shake the feeling that if he didn’t take responsibility for his actions and turn things around quickly he might not get the chance to turn them around at all.
“So the very next day I went back to school to look for him. I found out where he was teaching and went to his classroom, walked right up to him, and said, ‘Hey, I just want to apologize for the way I acted yesterday. I’m sorry.’ I stuck my hand out to shake his, and he looked at my hand, and then he looked at me, and he took my hand and said, ‘I appreciate that.’ And he held on to my hand and said, ‘I want you to play football for me.’ So I said, ‘OK.’ And that was it.”
Jody Cwik would turn out to be much more than a football coach. He would become a key figure in Dwayne’s development, believing in him even when he didn’t believe in himself. Football would provide
Dwayne with a positive outlet for his frustrations and aggression and a renewed sense of focus. As to why he felt compelled to apologize to Cwik, Dwayne is philosophical.
“There are signs around us all the time, and a lot of the time we don’t see them, but sometimes we do, and those become the greatest lessons.”
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