Kamau Shabazz, aka Otis Greene, III

co-author of I OWN I AM (I Once Was Now I Am)

At a very early age, I struggled to be myself. I had no idea who I was or what I wanted to be…as I had failed to look at the potential that lay dormant inside of me. My family, teachers, coaches, and the community saw my potential…encouraged my potential, yet their words fell on deaf ears. The one thing that I did know was that I wanted to experience life through challenges and bravery although I had no idea how to do that in a healthy fashion. So what did I do? I experimented with life’s destructive elements.

It began at the ripe age of twelve years old when my marijuana curiosity and low self-worth collided and I made the terrible decision to light my first “joint”. That decision was terrible because it became the cornerstone of my destruction and created within me a ‘permission statement’, that resonated within me, that my worth was limited and that I needed some sort of external substance (or persons) to lift my self-esteem…to make me feel worthy of being a human.


That’s sad for a young man to have to live in such a small place within his own mind…within his own heart but those are just some of the types of restrictions that destruction creates while destroying. My path would take me into numerous arrests and episodes of ‘running away from home, all in an attempt to experience life through challenges and bravery.

My next level of dissension was with alcohol (and cigarettes) which merely became additional elements that compounded my use, abuse, and addiction to marijuana. Alcohol made me cool…or so I thought. Alcohol actually made me into a fool as I kept my young body and mind in a daily state of intoxication that served no purpose other than to allow me to hide from myself and further limit my potential.  Through beer, wine, mixed drinks, and hard liquor I was determined to escape from my reality, a reality that was clear to the whole world (except me) that said I was an important young man with the potential to accomplish many great things, go many great places, and live a really great life. Yet I did not want that, I merely wanted to experience life through challenges and bravery.


In a final state of dissension I found that experience when I exchanged my potential for a combination of marijuana, alcohol, cigarettes, and finally methamphetamine (“meth”) all in a matter of seconds. I made a decision, and then I made a course of decisions all while in the delusional state that I was in control…when in reality a polysubstance addiction had taken control and everyone knew…except me, that I was not living up to my true potential.  Things had gotten horrible, I mean bad…and it happened really fast! Accompanying this dissension was a continuous line of criminal behavior/gang activity that is partially reflected in these arrests:


  • Possession /Sale of a Controlled Substance (Crack Cocaine)

  • Robbery/Grand Theft (Person)

  • Grand Theft (Auto)/Driving without Owner’s Consent

  • Assault and Battery/Great Bodily Injury

  • Possession/Sale of a Controlled Substance (Crack Cocaine)

  • Possession/Manufacture of a Weapon (Knife)


Those things became the essence of “Big Bird”, my fake gang moniker/sub-personality, and solidified the foundation of a course that would annihilate the innocence of my true self. Those are some of the things that occurred before the age of 18, and I would continue to live in an unimaginably worse state of destruction until the age of 40 and that is when divine intervention brought that destructive cycle to a stop.

Don’t let my destruction be the roadmap of your destruction. Take the time to discover and uncover your true potential as well as your true friends. Family, teachers, coaches, and your community (as a whole) are powerful resources that can allow you to propel into a life that is beyond your wildest dreams…a life that is full of potential, promise, and truly worth living.

Rocket Launch

This month's featured Author...

Rocket Launch


Authors Inside

by William Segura (incarcerated writer)

Upending all who resist the march they fall alone

the voices are distant from the barriers we create

walls of thought and bars of steel with intention,

they are raised to obscure that part of who we are,

that reminds them of the fragile and arbitrary nature of the human condition. 

Like a rose growing among the asphalt reaching out from the brokenness of the unforgiving surface

collections of word and thought offering the deepest parts of themselves so that others may know,

as they have discovered that even from within the dungeons we have built

there is hope, there is change

and despite a world that says our words can never have meaning

we see through the impact of our expression

that we are truly

Authors Inside.