“It’s just me and my mom. I like letting her know that I’m there for her if she needs me. For her birthday, if I have some money, I’ll go somewhere with her. Just to let her know that I love her. I think I’m more of a mama’s boy. I like having her do things I could do myself.
“I have a whole lot of freedom, but I don’t do anything crazy. I’ll come in the house at a reasonable time just so my mom doesn’t worry. . . .
“I don’t like smokers. I’m an athlete, so I stay away from smokers.
“There’s a group of kids who just come to school and don’t go to classes. They just walk around all day. Certain kids walk into class or walk through the class in the middle of a lesson. There are a lot of distractions. When I first got there, it was hard. Now I just sit in the corner and get my work done. . . .
“If my girlfriend and I weren’t together, I wouldn’t be with anybody. Before I was with her, I was single for almost two years. I’m more focused on school.
“My mom knows that I’m sexually active. When she found that out, she didn’t really seem surprised. I just came out and told her that I wanted to be tested because there’s a lot going around. She was like, okay. . . .
“My friend got killed about six months ago. I’m not exactly sure how. I got a call one day from someone who said he passed away, somebody got him. They found his body not too far from where he lived.
“You just gotta learn how to be tough, living in this environment. You gotta learn how to face your fears. There are fights all the time.
“I’m not going to say it’s a good thing to be in a gang, but sometimes it might be necessary. Parents can’t really protect you when you’re at school. They can’t protect you when you want to go to the mall and go shopping. . . .
“I don’t want to have a 9-to-5 job, living paycheck to paycheck. I want to have a career instead of a job, somewhere I want to go to in the morning. Come home, feel good. Have a nice house and a family.”