I moved to America at the age of 9. Though I hadn’t experienced much in my short years, my native Africa was all I’d known.

Though some might say there isn’t much for a 9-year-old to start over from, at the time it felt as though I’d gone from one world to another.

I had a difficult time adapting to the culture and English language at first. At times, I had to use hand gestures, which all the other kids thought was hilarious.

I didn’t know what was so funny, but sharing the laughter with my friends was all a kid could ask for.

Soon after moving to America, I moved to a neighborhood in Portland called Kennedy Park. As a child, I was transfixed by the basketball courts that were directly across from my new home.

Soccer is the sport of all sports in my native Africa, and this asphalt court was a mystery to me. I lost myself in the sport. I could also say I found myself.

Kennedy Park became my life. However, like any poverty-stricken ‘hood in America, the good didn’t come without the bad.

As I grew into a teenager, I began to struggle with alcohol. I’ve found myself now in and out of trouble during my gaps of sobriety.

I currently sit in a jail cell awaiting my turn to tackle the world again. My second chance. Well, maybe the fifth.

But soon I will be back to where my life began.

Kennedy Park. Home. And sober.

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