I have been waiting fourteen years to write this. A dear friend of mine Robert Amaya, AKA: lil Toker, came home from a fourteen year stay in the California Prison System. I know how I felt when I was coming home and I can just imagine what runs through his mind after fourteen years. When I saw him getting out of the car, a million emotions were running through my head. He made it home, he is free to get up and walk through this world he has missed out on.
Robert is an amazing artist, tattoos and on paper so I’m trying to get him to paint on canvas. You never know, he can be the next Diego Rivera or Simon Silva, I just want him to stay positive and free. I took him on a shopping spree to try to change his style; you know no more dressing like a gangster. When I asked him what size he was, he said I don’t know! He said he doesn’t know what’s in style. So I picked out a few things and I saw this look of happiness and appreciation on his face. The last year or so, of his sentence, was a difficult one and a test, for that matter. He lost his mom and dad that year and was involved in a prison riot where he was charged with an assault and sent to the hole and given more time.
He was able to overcome those obstacles and keep focused on his release date. We have talked and he seems to be doing well but is going through what we all go through when we come home. We have agreed that I will be his sort of sponsor, so if he feels like he needs to talk I will be there for him. I want him to succeed and find his own identity in life, as I have. The gangster life really does give you two options, death or incarceration, and I think he realizes that. He has goals and he is ambitious to live a positive life, I can’t make decisions for him but I can give him advice and encouragement. All our other friends are doing life in prison and he realizes he has a second chance at life. He tells me how hard it’s been getting an I.D or social security number and birth certificate. Now he will face rejection when he looks for a job, as I did, and I hope he doesn’t give up, from what I see he won’t, he is a smart man he did survive all that time in prison and we all know Cali prisons are no joke. So I will continue to be his sponsor, his ear, and his brother and most importantly his friend and support. I just want him to make it out in this world, too many of us don’t and it feels good to have someone from the same tree around. He left my best friend behind, this guy is like a brother to me and is serving a thirty plus year sentence and I am just happy that Robert has a chance to do something with himself and I hope with my influence, guidance and experience he can. We can all do it, it just takes discipline and determination because nothing good comes easy.
by Rolando Ortiz aka “El Cholo Poeta”