Growing up in the South Bronx, I never thought I’d go to college. Not because I didn’t want to or didn’t love to learn, but because going to college was not something that men on my block ever did. “Our history would be my future,” I thought. Dreams of what I wanted to be when I grew up were just dreams—I had no idea how to become a pilot, an airplane engineer, or even Will Smith. No one around me did either. We were wandering in the dark.
When I was twelve, I got into a middle school on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, De La Salle Academy. It’s a school for the academically talented and economically less advantaged. It changed my life. In a neighborhood not too far from my own, I saw alumni who looked just like me visiting from the best high schools and colleges in the country. That was to be me in a few years.
How did I know? Because I could finally see it. The game plan. The blueprint. The way. And once I saw it, I dove straight in. Boarding school in Asheville. College at Yale. Job on Wall Street.
This was progress, right? Eh, not really. A couple of years into my banking job, I realized I had lost sight of what I was doing it all for.
I stepped away from the job and the paycheck and jumped into something completely different. I started to write a book about my people and my block in the South Bronx. I managed my best friend as he embarked on a career in music. I wrote a script for a full-feature film.
I also became involved in education again. This time as an artist-in-residence and writing teacher at my old boarding school, a board member of Hanger Hall School in Asheville, and a traveling home-school teacher for a hilarious 13-year-old. I found my “why” again: to give back and create brighter futures.
De La Salle found me on a block where no one was looking for talent. My life’s work will be doing just that for the next generation. And that’s why I believe in Drive. This firm was built on a simple idea: to find world-class entrepreneurs in places where no one else bothered to look.