My name is A. PAJ Turner and I was born on the 29th of December, 1971, in Chicago, IL. My parents are Russell Leon Turner Sr. and Joann Turner. They divorced when I was two and he was an absent father to my brother and I. He died in 2002, of natural causes, but had two strokes that probably aided with his passing. He was fifty-two when he passed. My older brother, Russell Jr, took the role as my guardian and protector as he ensured if harm ever came our way, he would shield me at all cost. He was my first superhero and I looked up to him because he had abilities that I felt I could never obtain.
My early childhood was a typical middle-class environment in the 1970’s. My mom worked for Illinois Bell and my grandfather, Richard Watson Sr., who lived with us was my first and the example of what a man should be like. I did everything an inner-city kid would do for fun. Ring doorbells and run, play hide and go seek, kill-the-man, baseball, and other mischievous things. Snowball, rock and crabapple fights,was the thing to do in our neighborhood. When Michael Jordan touched down in Chicago, every child dream was to be like Mike, so basketball became my dream.
My mom did not want Public School education for my brother and I, so she sent us to catholic schools from Kindergarten through High School. I wasn’t the best student, I understood the work, but school just didn’t interest me. My grades showed it and my brother, my defense attorney pleaded his case to mom on why my grades was the way they were. I was proud that he would represent me. As my mom stood there, frowning with her hands on her hip with her leather belt folded in her right hand, she listened. When he told her, my F wasn’t really an F, what he did wrong was or trying to drag a teacher’s work ethic through the mud…. In short, he never won a case. It would have made more sense for my brother to tell her that I was adopted. He never hesitated to tell me that. He reasoning was because I didn’t have many baby pictures.
Eighth grade was the last straw for my mom and grandfather. I remember my grandfather and I was having a conversation about my grades. He said that he didn’t want to die knowing I was doing bad in school. That destroyed me! They last thing I ever wanted was for him to die and not showing him what I could become. I honor rolled in High School and went on to Kennedy King Jr. College on a basketball scholarship. One night, heading to a home game, I got held at gunpoint. I was at the wrong place at the wrong time. My uncle, Richard Watson Jr., convinced me to join the military and don’t look back. I did just that.