Beyond Emancipation

Fred: Achieving His Dreams 

Fred graduated from Texas Southern University!

Beginning when he was just 8 years old, Fred Lawson scored a lot of touchdowns. Running down Raimondi Field in West Oakland for his Pop Warner Pee Wee football team Fred says, “Once I’d see that daylight in front of me, if there was nobody in my way, I’d just keep going.”

Now 27, Fred has found a way to find daylight in front of him many times over, not letting any setback stop him from carrying the ball all the way.

Fred came to B:E when he was 17 after completing a juvenile diversion program at Sierra Ridge Academy. “I had struggles in high school,” says Fred, who was interviewed in his senior year for a Sports Illustrated article on gangs interrupting athletic promise called “How Dreams Die.”

“That’s what they called the article,” says Fred, “but my dreams didn’t die.”

Ten years after that article was published, Fred is poised to graduate this year from Texas Southern University, an historically black university in the heart of Houston. After he completes his bachelor’s degree in business management with a minor in administration, he plans to go on to graduate school to earn a master’s in sports administration.

As he looks back on his troubled high school years and his triumphant completion of college, Fred appreciates the high expectations everyone at B:E has always had for him.

Just weeks before the end of his senior year of high school Fred was shot multiple times after leaving an event. Determined to graduate on time despite this trauma, Fred studied for final exams from his hospital bed. “I decided not to give up on myself,” says Fred. “I didn’t have my full strength back so I used the strength in my mind to press on.”

“In the ILSP classes,” says Fred, “they always told us to work hard and stick with it. I’d been through so much already so I did—I stuck with it.”

“B:E helped me learn how to get a job, and even set me up with a suit,” says Fred. “Once I got to college, they helped me even more, with a scholarship and help with my textbooks and furniture.”

“You’re in college,” Fred remembers his B:E case manager saying. “The hard part’s over. Now you’re setting yourself up for success.”

Fred is currently seeking a full-time job utilizing his analytical and marketing skills. He plans to own his own business one day, possibly a youth sports camp. “I want to give kids in my community who are like I was when I was coming up the opportunities and resources I had,” Fred says. “I learned how to make the best out of every situation, and finish through tenacity.”

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