Travis is getting married.
Jul 17, 2009
I became Travis’ big brother when he was just 6 years old. He was a cute kid who lived with his Aunt who was and continues to be a terrific influence in his life. I had already been in the Big Brothers program for a few years in Miami and in Boston (during college). Matches usually last 2-3 years as someone often moves away, or grows up. I expected a couple year run with Travis. Tomorrow, 20 years later, I’ll stand next to Travis as his Best Man in his wedding. He stood next to me at my wedding 12 years ago, and for all the years in between – through thick and thin – we’ve been a part of each other’s lives.
When I met him I drove a 66 Mustang Convertible (Wimbledon white). I was single with a healthy head of hair. Travis was really tiny, and pretty much only liked Miami football and music. We would see each other every weekend for movies, sports, or just hanging out. Sometimes, we went to a book fair or a concert. What is so great about being a Big Brother (or any mentor) is that the things you regularly do that may have no particular significance become more important and more gratifying because you’re sharing your world with someone else. You see the world through someone else’s eyes.
Once when I was a federal prosecutor trying a civil rights case I brought Travis to sit through closing arguments. It was a criminal case where a racist had tried to keep a black woman from moving into his Broward County neighborhood through physical threats. He sat through the hours of argument perfectly behaved (imagine an 8 year old sitting still for 2 hours). When the verdict came back “guilty” he rushed into the well of the court and started hugging me (actually he hugged my leg given his height). I asked him what it meant to him and he said: “It means me or anyone can live anywhere we want to.” I had prosecuted hundreds of cases before and since – and many were much bigger or seemingly more important – but none had the poignancy of that verdict.
So now, 20 years later Travis is getting married. He has a family, and is at Miami-Dade College so he can better make his way in a tough economy, and I couldn’t be more proud. Wilsa – like any good spouse – has brought out a part of him that I knew existed but needed to be inspired. He is embracing responsibility, serious about his future, and wants to be a Big Brother himself. Boy, do I feel old and happy.