Billy had the whole world at his fingertips. Or so he thought…
He grew up here in Milwaukee, in a Christian home, with loving parents. He was a good student. He became a basketball star, and even got a college scholarship. So how did he end up as a drug addict and dealer, a thug and a thief? “I let all those good things go to my head,” he says. “People liked me and treated me like a king. So I started acting that way. I thought I was special, that I deserved to party, to do whatever I wanted.”
Billy played some college basketball, but getting high was more important. He eventually dropped out and started running the streets — using and selling drugs. All along, God tried to get his attention. But Billy tuned Him out. Until…
…he was shot six times and ended up in a coma. He recovered, but for the first time in his life, he realized he was vulnerable. That not everybody liked him. “It really hurt my pride. And it got to the point where I didn’t trust anyone.”
But Billy kept getting high and losing jobs, and even spent some time in jail for theft. He finally decided to check out the Milwaukee Rescue Mission to see if we could help — even though he was facing more prison time for another theft. But a member of the MRM staff called Billy’s probation officer and suggested that he be allowed to enroll in our recovery program.
“I joined the program on March 27, 2008, and I’ve never looked back,” Billy said. “I’ve been totally clean since then. I came to realize that my problems weren’t drugs and the streets, but me. I was the problem. I was the sinner. And that’s where prayer and reading the Bible helped me. I gave my life to Christ and now I’m a changed man.”
For over a decade, Billy worked in security at MRM and daily encouraged the men in our Safe Harbor shelter — until he sadly passed away from COVID-19 complications on April 13, 2020. He is dearly missed, but we know the incredible story of his life and faith will continue to impact many in the years to come.
On helping men who were once lost like he was, Billy said: “I want them to understand that I’m here for a bigger reason than just feeding and clothing them. I am trying to help the next Billy, before it’s too late.”