DayDay grew up in the Lincoln Projects of New York City. Alone, he took a bus to Charleston, South Carolina—where his life did an about-face.
Read excerpts from an interview with DayDay and a letter he wrote about how his life has changed for the better.
“At seven, I was selling drugs to feed my younger sisters. I wanted video games and toy cars like any other normal kid. I didn’t have a dad so I knew things wouldn’t come easy for me. I was always told: no one was going to give you anything and you had to go get it for yourself. I looked up to gang bangers in the street because of their hard work. They made it for themselves and their families.”
DayDay was often out past midnight on school nights in a tough neighborhood full of drugs and guns. “Everywhere, people were dropping like flies,” he said.
Moving to Charleston
“I arrived in Charleston with $40 in my pocket, two black garbage bags and a book bag with my sneakers in it. I lived with my 45-year-old cousin who always played music until 4:00 in the morning.”
“My mom sent me to live with my cousin, but he was not a role model. He was an alcoholic. It was rough living with him because he was struggling, himself.”
When Things Changed
“I enrolled in North Charleston High School. I had problems with everyone, including teachers, students, and even the principal. Because of my rough life in New York, I didn’t trust anyone. I had a hard time adjusting.”
When there was no food in the house, DayDay started going to Seacoast’s Dream Center in North Charleston.
“I got plugged in with Seacoast Church. I loved going there. Everyone was so amazing and wanted to help me out. They brought me food and body wash. I had nothing but a few clothes because I just moved down.”
”I got plugged in with Seacoast Church. I loved going there.”
A True Role Model
But it was Tomelex Copeland, the student pastor at the North Charleston campus, who made the biggest difference.
“Coach Tee is the football coach at North Charleston High School. He coaches from the kindness of his heart because he does not get paid. Coach Tee was always there for me, even when I wasn’t sure. He has helped me through many struggles.”
When DayDay confided in Coach Tee about his life, Coach Tee told him that if needed, he could come live with him and his wife and eight-year-old daughter. “God answered my prayers. Before that, I didn’t know what a loving family was.”
“Coach Tee keeps everything honest and real with me. Even when I am wrong, he tells me that I need to do better. He will say things that make me think. If I sit and actually think and listen to what he says, he keeps me focused on what is the right thing to do.”
“It used to be when things got tough, I’d give up and leave. But when I told Coach Tee I was going to join the football team, he said, ‘You ain’t allowed to quit.’
‘I can quit. You can’t tell me what I can’t do.’
‘No, if you quit, you gonna quit in life.’
“When Coach Tee said that, it really hit me hard.”
DayDay stuck it out for the whole season as part of a team that ended up #1 in the state and #2 in the nation.
Coach Tee has influenced DayDay’s athletic life and personal life. “He teaches me not to quit, and he teaches me how to be a man.”
”He teaches me not to quit, and he teaches me how to be a man.”
Serving Future Generations
DayDay serves on weekends at the North Charleston campus, giving back to the community. He knows how important it is to provide a good role model for kids. “I want to help them set up a good future. I see myself as a leader. God has a lot in store for me. I told Coach Tee that I’m gonna take his spot as a pastor.”
”I told Coach Tee that I’m gonna take his spot as a pastor.”
“In New York, being around the people in my crowd, I thought I’d be six feet under by now. But being around positive people changed me. It made me realize that I can do better and make something out of my life. With all the support that I have right now, I know I can make it happen.”