It's Dramos. You may know me from the recap on LATV. Now I've got my own podcast, Life as a Gringo, coming to you every Tuesday and Thursday. We'll be talking real and unapologetic about all things life, Latin culture and everything in between from someone who's never quite fit in.
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Learn more about their clean standards and shop Clean at Sephora Beauty at Sephora.com. This is Lee Habib and this is our American Stories. And we tell stories about everything here on this show from the arts to sports and from business to history and everything in between, including your stories. Send them to our American stories.com. That's our American stories.com. They're some of our favorites. And we love to tell stories about faith whenever we can and redemption.
And this is one of our best redemption stories brought to us by our very own Joey Cortez. Ron Brown grew up on the west side of Chicago. I grew up in a family where my uncles were drug dealers and pimps. And I saw that growing up as a kid.
It never appealed to me. I can remember as a kid seeing my uncles get shot and different things like that. And, you know, one guy tried to murder my uncle. And just seeing it and just being a kid like five, six, seven, eight, nine years old growing up being like, this ain't the way it's supposed to be. I watched certain stories and kids say growing up in the inner city, how they saw drug dealers and that's the only people they saw.
And for them, they saw that as a means to an end to get out the ghetto. As a kid, I don't know what God blessed me with, but he blessed me with the ability to see that I was wrong. And that wasn't the way for me to go about my life. He was also blessed with a strong mother who divorced his biological father when Ron was a kid. I can remember he was part of an accident fraud scheme. And I remember being a kid telling him, I was like, hey, man, you're going to get in trouble. He'd say, son, you know what?
I'm making my living the best way I know how. And eventually he ended up going to prison for a few years for that. And I can remember being a kid and him writing me letters and saying, hey, you know, when I get out, things are going to be different. I'm going to spend more time with you.
I think it's important. And the thing was, he got out and nothing ever changed. He went back to what he knew. And he ended up being in the streets for a few more years and he went to jail. My dad was like the real, you ever seen the movie Catch Me If You Can? He was like the real Catch Me If You Can.
You understand what I'm saying? When he came doing checks and stuff like that. And so I can remember having that example from a very young age and seeing all the cars and houses.
And I was like, it just never appealed to me. My mother was fortunate enough and I was fortunate enough. She got married when I was about three or four years old to a great man by the name of Lawrence Hunt. And he was my stepfather and he did everything in his power to just raise me the right way. And I'm so appreciative for the influence. Even right now as a 45 year old man, I think about the lessons in what you taught me and just different things about manhood and responsibility and all those things.
And so I think having a father made a drastic difference in my life. My mother was a pretty tough lady. She's about 6'2", 6'3". And she didn't play. And my stepfather was about 6'5".
He didn't play either. So I grew up in a home where my parents were really about education. I remember being a kid and saying, hey, you know, I want to be a professional athlete. I want to do this and do that. And my parents were always like, look, that's a great goal, but let me give you an amazing dream.
Whatever you can do with your mind instead of your body will facilitate you to have a very, very lengthy career. I can remember my father getting tickets to take me to go see the Chicago Bulls and I sit there watching them playing and Michael Jordan was lighting them up that night. The arena, everybody was yelling and screaming and I'm eating my popcorn and I'm looking and I got a pretzel in one hand and popcorn on the floor and drinking the drink.
I'm having my best time ever. And he taps me on the shoulders when the Bulls call a time out and he says, son, let me ask you something. I said, what? He says, who has the greatest job in this whole arena? And I kind of looked at him because I thought it was a crazy question. And I was like, Michael Jordan. And he tapped me on the shoulder and he said, you see that box up there with those guys walking around eating those hot dogs. And I said, yeah. He says, they have the best job in the building.
They're the ones who pay Michael Jordan. And so even though people may not be screaming for him, they're the reason why all this is going on. So I want you to learn the big picture approach to life.
And so that just really kind of got me thinking in life. They say, you know what? Mike's going to retire one day, but the Bulls are still going to be here. Mike's going to have an injury one day, but guess what?
The Bulls are still going to be here. And he's like, that's what I'm getting. I want to, I want you to learn about life. Being the guy that's still there as transitions continue to happen through life. And that lesson really, really stayed with me all through life. My father, I'm going to tell you something.
It wasn't a good experience with him growing up, but those bad experiences with him made me, I think today, a much better father. So he would say, Hey, I'm going to pick you up, you know, so get dressed. We're going to go, we're going to hang out for the day.
And so my mother would say, Hey, look, don't, don't make this kid promises. And you know, I show up and I can remember one particular time getting dressed up. I mean, I had on my pants and my shirt and my tie, I paged him. He called me. I said, Hey, I'm ready. And he says, okay, I'll be there in a little while. And I can remember sitting in the window, dressed up and waiting on my father to come and waiting on him to come until the point that I fell asleep and my stepfather picking me up and putting me to bed and taking my shoes off.
And I kind of woke up as he was picking me up. I said, did he come? And he said, no, he didn't come. He says, but you know what I'm here. And I always remember that memory, you know?
And so for me, anything with my, with my children, I don't care if it's a basketball game, I don't care if it's a football game. If I tell them I'm coming, I'm coming. And so through the years, I never hated my father because he was my father, but I didn't understand. And so with that, I was able to find out how he grew up that, you know, his father one day said he was going out to the store to go get a pack of cigarettes and he asked him and his brother, what did he want? And they said they wanted some candy.
He said, okay, I'll be back. His father never came back and he may have been like six, five or six. He never saw his father again. And so at that point I kind of realized that my father didn't know how to be a father because he never had that example. So I grew up with those things. And I'll tell you something, of course they shape you, but I didn't let them break me.
And I think some of these situations in our lives, they break us and they turn us into broken people. And so from, from that moment on in my life, as I went up, I had, like I said, I had a great stepfather. I was just very determined that I would never do that to my kids. And so no child of mine can say, Hey, I sit there on the doorstep and waited for my dad to come and he didn't come.
And that's important to me. And you're listening to Ron Brown and his real dad, his biological dad. Well, he was a character right out of Catch Me If You Can.
Just a black version, passing checks, living a bad life, making bad choices. He grew up though, in a home that was all about education, a stepdad that really loved him, right? He said those bad experiences with my biological father made me a better father. And I never hated my father. I didn't understand him until I learned about how he grew up.
His father's father, when he was five or six years old, went to the corner store and never came back. When we come back, more of Ron Brown's story here on Our American Story. Folks, if you love the great American stories we tell and love America like we do, we're asking you to become a part of the Our American Stories family. If you agree that America is a good and great country, please make a donation. A monthly gift of $17.76 is fast becoming a favorite option for supporters.
Go to our American stories.com now and go to the donate button and help us keep the great American stories coming. That's our American stories.com For NFL teams to conference championship games and only a few more shots to win big on the playoffs with DraftKings Sportsbook and official sports betting partner of the NFL counting down to Super Bowl 57. New customers can bet just $5 and get $200 in free bets instantly. Download the DraftKings Sportsbook app and use promo code timer. New customers can bet $5 on the conference championships and get 200 in free bets instantly. Only at DraftKings Sportsbook with promo code timer. 21 and over in most eligible states but age varies by jurisdiction.
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Learn more about the science behind the weight loss at truthaboutweight.com. And we're back with our American Stories and Ron Brown story. We left off with Ron describing his difficult relationship with his absent father and the lessons he learned from that.
Back to Ron with the rest of this story. The funny story about it is that he came to my high school graduation at Holy Trinity and he made a big deal about it. And he told me he was so proud of me for graduating high school. And I think I saw him a little bit over that summer and I never saw him again. I didn't see him again until 20 years later, which is really kind of crazy because he had a brother and his brother had died. And so I think I was living in Atlanta at the time and I got word that my father had died and I thought he had actually died. But it was kind of some confusion.
So for years I thought he was dead. A few summers after that, my wife sent some information in first to be on the Family Feud. And so we become contestants on the Family Feud with Steve Harvey and they tape it up in Atlanta and we go ahead and we have this show and we lose by one question. And we're like, man, we came all the way up here.
We had a good time, but it would have been nice if we would have won. And so this is where I think about how everything happens for a reason. Well, fast forward years later, because after you do a Family Feud episode, they keep playing the episode over and over and over and over and over again.
And so it stays in rotation for years. And so I just started law school and I was making a trek from Atlanta to Birmingham three nights a week for school. And it was one particular night I was leaving criminal law class and I get a phone call from a number I had never seen before. And I was like, who's just calling me this late? It's about, I don't know, eight, thirty, nine o'clock at night. And I answered the phone and it's just something about your parents voice.
You never forget it. And even though I hadn't heard my father's voice for 20 plus years, the phone rings and I answer it and he says, hello, son. And at that moment, I just broke down and cried.
I had to pull over to the side of the road of Highway 20. And I was like, Dad? And he was like, son, I've been looking for you. And I was like, I've been looking for you. I was like, how did you get my number?
And it was a ray of emotions. And I was crying and he was crying. And he said, you know, I went and did some time and, you know, I lost track of you when I got out and I didn't know where you were. He said, I always knew you. You always said you wanted to be in business.
You want to be a businessman. And I looked and looked and he says, I'm going to tell you something. I actually was sitting down with my girlfriend the other night. We were watching Family Feud. He says, I never watched Family Feud.
It's her favorite show. And it came to you and you said your name. And he said, that's my son. And she said, that's not your son. He's like, no, that's my son. That's who I've been looking for.
That's my son. He's like, she didn't believe me. He says, well, what he did was he listened to my mother-in-law, Dawn White.
When you do that, the Family Feud, they ask you, what do you do and where do you live and all that. And so at that moment in time, she was a senior VP for Coca-Cola and she said that. And so his girlfriend and him called Coca-Cola. They got in contact with her and she did some vetting. I didn't even know this was going on, but she did some vetting and to make sure who he said he was. And then they called my wife and they went on three way. And my wife was like, we thought you were dead. And he's like, no, that's my brother.
And they gave him my number and we talked for about an hour. And I just told him, you know what, despite everything in the world, I still love you. And you're my father.
You're the reason why I'm here. And that was very important to me because I lost my mother back when I was 27 years old. So him and I kind of reconnected when I was probably like around 38. And so that was a powerful moment for me because as a man, even though I had a wife and the children I had, you still feel a level of loneliness because my parents, you know, I felt that both my parents were going and it just, I would always ask myself, well, who buries me? You know, something happens to me, you know, I guess with him, but due to the fact that he was still alive, we went ahead and put our relationship back together at night. I actually ended up flying to go see him two days later.
And I spent my birthday with him, but I can give you an irony of that though. My wife had had our, our second son, Jackson. And so she said, what do you want to name him?
And we got some names. I said, we'll name him Jackson. I said, but his middle name is going to be Owen.
And so my wife was very surprised. She was like, why would you name him Owen and your father? And you guys didn't have the best relationship.
Why would you name him Owen? I said, you know what, despite us not having the greatest relationship, I still love my father and I wanted him to be better. And at that time in his life, maybe he couldn't be.
I said, but you know what? I forgive him for everything that's happened in my life. I just forgive him and I can't hold on to it. And I said, you know, Jackson, Owen Brown, you know, he'll make that name good. This kid will never go to the penitentiary. This kid will do something great with his life and we'll have his grandfather's name. And so my wife thought that was very powerful. And she said, okay, his name will be Jackson Owen Brown. Well, the irony of that is that my son was born like about two weeks before my father came back in my life.
So I don't know if people think about life and letting things go and getting right with God or getting right with who you are as an individual, but I actually believe in my heart that me making that decision to forgive my father for everything that had happened in the past, every hurt, every hardship, every disappointment and giving my youngest son his name, I think for some way that opened the door and that allowed us to find each other. And that's been seven years ago. And so now we talk every other day. That's my guy. He came to my law school graduation and he was very proud and he looked and said, you know what, to see how I did everything wrong in life and to see that you did so much right. I'm just so proud of you. So that's a, that's, that's a big part of my journey.
So even though he didn't start off being the most amazing dad in the world years later, he's become a great, great, great, a great dad and a great grandfather. You know, something my parents would always see me when my mom always taught me was the importance of forgiveness, that nobody's perfect. Everyone does something wrong.
And she would always talk about, you know, when Jesus would say, who could throw the first stone and no one can throw the first stone. And even though he didn't get it right, I was open to allowing him to get it right. I was open. I think you have to be open sometimes.
And it's a big thing. You have to forgive because here you are carrying that around with you. I just really think that it just really, really erodes your spirit. It erodes everything in you because you're carrying around the baggage and the hurt of something that happened years and years and years ago. And when you can't get over it and you can't move past it, it keeps you locked in that place.
One of my good friends, he's a mentor of mine. He always said that anger is a wasted emotion. Anger will cost you a lot in your life. There are a lot of people sitting in the penitentiary right now because they were angry in a second and they did something that if they could take back, they would. And so I just learned the importance of just you can't hold on to it. Sometimes you've got to move on and move past it, but you can't hold on to it because it keeps you stuck. So there's a line in the Bible where Jesus said, how many times should you forgive somebody?
And it's an enormous numbers like 60 times 60 times. You know, it's really kind of crazy that that's what the Lord and Savior says that you should. And I'll give you the greatest story of that is that Jesus knew that Judas was going to be a Judas. You know, Jesus knew that he was going to be betrayed by Judas, but Jesus still continued the journey with him. And so it was all the fact that he knew he was going to betray him, but he still loved him.
And that's an important message right there. He still loved him. He knew he was going to do what he did, but he still loved him.
And he kept him around. If you read the Bible, you know, there was a point when, you know, they kind of felt that he was stealing, but Jesus was so in love with the man and the relationship that that didn't even matter. And that's pretty tough in this day and age for someone to still love someone, even though that's the way it is.
But you know what? I equate that to like a true father's love. You know, our kids don't always do what we want them to do. They don't always go the way we want them to go. But they're still our children and we still love them and we still desire relationships with them and we still wish them well. And I think that's how God looks at us on the throne, even though we get up in the morning and maybe we have great intentions and some people have bad intentions, but they go out here and they do things. But he's still in love with you.
He's still in love with who you are. And the door is always open for you to come back. There's nothing you've done that's been too enormous that God can't forget. And I think that's the most powerful thing about the Christian faith is that the door is always open for you. And I'm nowhere near Jesus Christ.
I'm nowhere near God. But I've learned the importance of keeping the door open because people can change. People can change. What a message from Ron Brown. And when faith is a part of people's lives, we put it right out there. And his forgiveness, which came straight from his faith, well, it opened a door. And my goodness, what a door it opened. And my goodness, what he did with his wife just weeks before wanting to name his son after the father that was never there with the middle name and the wife saying, what gives and him walking through that he'd forgiven his own dad and teaching his wife the power of forgiveness. And two weeks later, that call comes. I've been looking for you.
Hello, son. And he said, I just cried. Some of us believe in coincidence. Some of us believe in fate and destiny. And some of us believe in God. And for believers, that's a God moment.
A God wink if ever there is one. Ron Brown's story and we'd love to hear yours. Send your stories to our American stories.com. That's our American stories.com.
Ron Brown's story, a beauty here on Our American Stories. Looking forward to spring break, graduation and girls nights out? Get outfitted today at Lulu's. Lulu's is all about providing on trend looks for any occasion, whether it's a current trend or a closet staple, you can find it at Lulu's. And when you make an account with Lulu's, use code LULUSFAN20 to save 20% off your first order. That's LULUSFAN20. Place your order today at LULUS.com. Terms and conditions apply.
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