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Success Stories: Marquis McKnight

Author: Amanda Ellis

November 20, 2022

My story starts in high school.

I was playing football and wrestling, keeping out of trouble during
the season. I was living with my grandparents—my grandfather was my father figure, and when he passed away my freshman year, I started to run around trying to prove myself to my peers. I quickly found myself arrested for armed robbery.

After spending 18 months in jail, I was 18 years old and wanted
to do the right thing. I got a job, worked like crazy, and was making great money until a new manager joined. We didn’t see eye to eye and he began cutting my shifts. I started selling weed to make up my income difference and quickly realized that I was able to make more money sitting at home than getting up and going to a job that didn’t respect me. Weed turned into Molly. Molly turned into Coke, and next thing I knew I was selling Heroine. I was back on the streets.

By 20 years old, I was convicted of another crime and at the age of 21 I was sentenced to ten years in prison. Those first three years were tough. I had my chest puffed up and answered everything in violence. It took me awhile to acknowledge that I was in prison because of me. Once I admitted that, I made a complete transformation. I did every job you could in prison: medical, property, hand sanitation, ice man, you name it. I learned responsibility and how to do hard work. When I finally returned home, my father had a friend who was a graduate of the STRIVE® program at CFUF. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Cooper gave me a call and helped me enroll.

STRIVE® helped me feel like a man again.

STRIVE® helped me feel like a man again. They pushed me to chase what I wanted to do by asking, “what would you wake up in the morning and do for free?” When I told them I’d be a sports show host, they didn’t just say, “well,
go do it.” They went the extra step and put me in contact with a gentleman who had his own show. We now stream a show together on Facebook covering football, basketball and an all-sports highlight. CFUF connected me with the Whiting-Turner Company where I am now an Assistant Superintendent. STRIVE® and the Center put in me a position to have a career. To be a man. To provide for my fiancé and our baby boy that is due in April.