Aspiring Criminal, Gangster and Hustler Turns it All Around

Jason Campos-Keck
MDI Contributor

To understand the pendulum swing that has been my personal comeback story, one must first understand that low to lowest times of my life spanned most concentrated and consistently from the age of 9 to 29.

Included in those decades of time were many high times and highlights of happiness as well, and even in the low many lessons of experience that created the ability to persevere adversity shaping the man I’ve become today.    

I point to these decades or periods in my life only because these were the years I was an aspiring criminal, gangster, hustler, and poverty survivor, so it is these years I experienced the most hardship and suffering in my environment.              

I find it difficult to pinpoint one specific moment over another that felt like it was the lowest of the low. That may be because I look to that previous time in my life as an old movie that I would continuously watch. I can however combine moments together in categories and describe some of the emotions that come to memory as a result of readdressing those times.                               

Incarcerations felt particularly low beginning from the age of 12 and continuing on through teenage and adulthood. The emotions that rose from these times were isolation, loneliness, abandonment, and resentment.       

Hospitalizations were another low, having been stabbed at 16, shot twice at separate times at 18, stabbed again at 22, and shot again at 29. The emotions that fell from these experiences were fear for the potential loss of life, the worry for those I’d leave behind, and the bitter regret that I hadn’t figured an exit from this lifestyle sooner.

The all-time lowest had to be the times imprisoned by my addictions. Experimenting with every hard narcotic substance available to some degree – be it coke, crack, heroin, meth, or PCP – then discovering most of these were less disabling than my lasting addiction alcohol. Emotions of an addict are much harder to come by or describe since we are in the business of numbing it all out. Even so, it’s safe to say I felt apathy, despair, self-pity, depression, anxiety, anger, desperation, and deceit. Just to name a few.       

The Comeback

The steps I took towards a comeback began at age 29 with the love of my 1-year-old adopted son, in a way that I had never given myself permission to love myself.

The second step was trusting a decade-long friend who had gotten his own life together through three steps of his own.

  1. A sobriety program
  2. A men’s weekend
  3. A higher purpose men’s team

I followed this in my own order, which was the men’s weekend, followed by the program and men’s team simultaneously.   

The beliefs that assisted my changes and my comeback were surrendering spiritually to a higher power, resisting emotionally dramatic reactions, mentally sharpening and self educating, and physically maintaining a competitive edge.    

Today I am affecting not only my family, my team, and my close community, I am also affecting change in my county, my Tribal region which is four counties, my state, and my country through several acts and areas of  service. The impact is found in others watching my ability to make a difference regardless of my origins and past.

My community is stepping up around me to make their own go of it. And that feels mighty humbling.

I am grateful for my past, and happy to be where I am.

Jason Crazy Bear Tircuit Campos-Keck
MDI Alumni and ally for life!

Dad right in the middle of Christmas.
Keck at far right with some of his men in MDI, circa timeless moments.

4 thoughts on “Aspiring Criminal, Gangster and Hustler Turns it All Around”

  1. It’s amazing how many languages you speak. I used to watch you Robert’s Park how you would switch back and forth between street and I guess “white” language. The language of sobriety, spirituality, the men of MDI and the guy at work. I consider it an honor to have a part in your life. Be well!!

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