By Az Ford
San Quentin State Prison

Six months’ worth of work and preparation led up to THE LAST MILE DEMO DAY, 2015. That day was a day I’ll forever consider a prized possession in the treasure chest of my good memories. It was an amazing day and I’m proud I was a part of it.

I remember showing up at the San Quentin chapel on the morning of Demo Day an meeting up with my Last Mile brothers. There was a charge in the air. We knew we were going to raise the bar that day and WE DID. When the first guests began arriving I remember the butterflies started a mesh pit in my stomach but one look at Reggie Hola’s smile and I knew it was going to be okay. Mrs. Parenti took us to the staging area and we all took a few breaths to relax.

Powerful people were here to see us a nice meditation was a good call. When we were done we huddled up and I gave a little pep talk to pump my Last Mile brothers up. Jason, Sam, Chung, and the rest of us were ready to go. That’s when Hammer walked in and gave us a little inspiration. I remember being humbled by his sincerity . Then the call came over the microphone,” welcome the graduating class of TLM 2015″.

When we marched out to the applauding crowd my whole body started tingling with electricity. I’d never had people cheer for me like this. WOW. As we began to give our business pitches I remember how each one seemed to build upon the previous pitch. It was exciting. Then Mr. Redlitz said,” next is Big Az (that’s me) and I fell into a semi-daze as I walked on stage. Something happened and I was on autopilot . But then I flexed my arms and said, “I’m Big Az the creator of SCHOOLIGANS”, and people laughed for me. They brought me back into the moment and I was awed with joy because I saw admiration in their eyes. The politicians, tech giants, stars and my fellow inmates were looking at me with genuine respect . My heart soared with the eagles at that moment. When I finished my pitch and left the stage Lt. Governor Newsom stood up and shook my hand. I was tripping out because the future Governor of California was telling me I did a good job. I was so stoked I answered him with a,” thanks dude”.

I remember the rest of my classmates finishing their pitches and the excitement I felt at their excellent deliveries. Everyone of us nailed it. I was proud with them because we all did it together. Tyrell, Vinnie, and Keith closed the show with style. It was an amazing day.

Demo Day allowed me to see the potential in myself. I’ve tried every drug there is but none of them compare to the natural positive high I felt on that day. Demo Day was a turning point in my life and I will always be thankful to Chris Redlitz, Beverly Parenti and the TLM family for allowing me to share in this experience. I am a proud TLM graduate. Big Az Ford creator of SCHOOLIGANS!

Filed Under: Champions