Some may call it divine energy others may call it fate, but there has not been one thing in my life that I have asked God, the Universe, Allah, whatever the spirits are to you, for that I have not received. How much of it has to do with the connectedness to the divine energy, or maybe I’m over simplifying it to distract from my work ethic. Who knows…Regardless of what it is, the understanding of this power that lives within all of us is what drove me to leave America.
The girl everyone wanted in high school, the nicest car, the football scholarship, the unicorn company – I have constantly embodied “The Secret” that we hear so much about. The ability to harness our thoughts, to turn them into actions, to turn them into results. One that really turned my life upside down was wanting to be a millionaire by 18. I did not know how or why, but you could not tell me otherwise. Ironically, on my 18th birthday I inherited a pile of cash. What I had not anticipated was that although the universe would reward my steadfastness, it would also teach me one of the toughest lessons in life, “Be careful what you ask for because you just might get it.”
Along with the money I inherited a legal case, debt owed to the IRS, and the stress of now having to deal with family and friends suing me, asking me to cover their mortgages, pay their bills, and loan them money. Every day it was something different.
A lot to have to deal with at 18, on top of all the other stresses of being a freshman student-athlete on a college campus by myself, managing what seemed like constant injuries and an ivy-league work load, and the trauma of losing my father being unearthed throughout the process. At 18, living in a 10x10 dorm, I had all the responsibilities of a college student while having to gain the sophistication of a 50 year old. “Be careful what you ask for because you just might get it.”
I like to think I did what most teenagers would do given my position at the time - turn to drugs, alcohol, and any woman that would pay them attention. Seemed like the best option at the time. Not so much looking back, but it did help numb all the things I felt were too much for me to handle.
The results - almost flunking out, getting arrested, suspended from college, and proudly receiving the label as a troubled “adult” by my school and especially my coaches. Crazy thing is, no one really ever took the time to ask me what was leading me down the road of such destructive behaviors. Nope, they just assumed, in the words of one of my coaches, I was “a kid out of PG County.” I find joy in sharing that about him now because at one point, I believed him. He was an idiot.
Sorry back on topic. I’m obviously still holding on to that one Coach Diez.
Through it all, the work of digging myself out of these holes always provided me solace. The idea that I could prove everyone wrong. Football provided that for most of my life. GOOD became the next iteration. I was managing it all while still numbing myself with the vices that have taken down so many of my predecessors.
Staring out of this 8th floor window in the Westlands of Kenya I cannot help but to reflect on how far God has brought me and how much farther He has for me to go. But in the words of some lady I met on the street one day, “God don’t bless no mess.”
There is a simple prayer that I recite often. I ask God to put me in a position to be a steward of His love, joy, and resources here on earth. To provide me with so much that my cup overflows into every life that I touch. Safe to say He has done that many times over in my life. What I have not managed to do was fully comprehend what it means to be His steward. I have not been able to let go of the traumas in my life that will allow me to be the best version of Darius Baxter that He has destined me to be.
Only a few days removed from the best birthday of my life, where I was in a position to pay for 22 members of my family to go on vacation. It is truly one of the greatest accomplishments of my life. What I had not anticipated was how many of my traumas would be triggered throughout the process, hindering my ability to fully appreciate the moment.
Leading up to the departure date, I ended up having to coordinate the transport and pay for everyone to come down as opposed to just covering the house like originally agreed. The universe has a funny way of holding us accountable to our goals even when we try to avoid it. I asked God to put me in a position to pay for the whole trip months ago and pay for the whole trip I did. That meant getting everyone there. But in that moment, all I kept revisiting was the traumas of my past where I try and do a little for people and they inevitably take advantage of my kindness. Completely unwarranted, but the mind has a funny way of helping us hold on to those lowest moments in our life.
Every call about paying for this or that triggered moments from my past where I felt used. Moments where I felt helpless. Moments I felt ostracized if I spoke out. The years I would save my birthday money as a child only for my mom to walk in my room one day and ask me to pay a bill that month. I was 8-9. I did not understand the family needed me in that moment, but I held on to those perceived traumas. All I felt in those moments were something I treasured so much and had saved for so long being taken away. The times when I was trying to be a normal college kid and, it appeared, all my family would do was call me if they needed money.
Recently studying the brain has helped me to understand better how our minds can play tricks on us, especially as it pertains to the past. I’m sure that is not the only time I talked to my family, but for some reason those moments stand out more than any other conversation we had. I felt as though I had no real relationships in my life.
Crazy to think that in the end when the dust settled from those formative years in my life, I came away with a few hundred thousand dollars, lawyer fees, and relationships that would never quite be the same. I had become an alcoholic, sex addict, and really struggled to trust anyone in my life including those closest to me. Safe to say my late teens, early twenties broke me. I don’t have many regrets in life. Those years, however, will forever stain my legacy as I damaged myself and others in ways I can never forgive myself for. The only way I thought to make up for those times was to look to the future in trying to make the world a better place through GOOD. I wanted to try to make it so that a young person would never have to go through what I did. I did not set out on the journey for attention or money. I already had those things and realized they were not fulfilling. They actually made me sad. I simply wanted to make up for my past and do something for the love it.
I left the states because I felt my journey creeping back to those dark times in my life. The more I have accomplished the more attention has been placed on my work, the more money starts to become a factor, the more unrealistic expectations to provide for others above myself occurs and to somehow have matured 30 years my senior in a time where I am still trying to figure out who I am. I had to leave because I found myself beginning to unconsciously (and consciously) rebelling against my own success, despite God continuing to propel me forward.
Why am I telling you this? It’s simple. In life we have opportunities to be great. In my case, that opportunity has been shared on an international stage. What I have not come to grips with yet, is how to manage those dependent on my successes for their own forward progress. Whether it be a family member, a lover, a friend, a business partner.
I have set these big audacious goals for my entire life with the longing to bring so many people with me. And I can rest easy atop this building in Nairobi, knowing I have done just that. Where I have lacked is removing the traumas that make me resent when I give too much, while managing just how much of myself I am willing to give to others leaving myself empty. I was raised to have a heart that longs to provide. In doing so, God has continued to pour blessings into my life - more than I need or want just as I ask for. Yet, the next step in my growth is now learning to manage that I am human. Uncle Ben said, “with great power comes great responsibility”.
Damn that old man for being so right.