The best part was seeing how happy my customers were. I really thrived when customers gave me the freedom to do what I thought was best.
Incarcerated: 11 years
Housed: San Quentin State Prison, California
He brought me this 1990 Corvette. The only good things about it were the motor and the electronics. I spent three months redoing the exterior and interior. The paint job was my favorite part. I love doing custom paint jobs. He wanted a NASCAR-inspired look, so I did some research to avoid trademark issues. He liked it so much that he asked me to sign the car. I took it to a car show in Sacramento and it ended up winning first place. I gave him the trophy. He asked me to do the same design on two other cars. I first started working on cars when I was 12. I enjoy every aspect of it, from fixing transmissions to creating custom paint jobs. For 26 years, I owned my own body shop in Sacramento. I worked almost every day, putting in 16-hour shifts. It was my whole world. The best part was seeing how happy my customers were. I really thrived when customers gave me the freedom to do what I thought was best.
Cars are like life and death to people, so dealing with expensive repairs and delays could be challenging. Sometimes, people would come into my shop and threaten me, but most of them appreciated my work, and I enjoyed working with them. Even when I was in prison in San Diego, some customers would drive all the way from Sacramento to visit me, and we still keep in touch. Some customers even flew to Denver to let my grandmother know I was okay, and that she would be okay too. My grandparents had a big influence on me. They taught me self-confidence and a strong work ethic. They also sparked my interest in Native American spirituality and jewelry. Now, I make Native American jewelry as a creative outlet. Working on cars has been more than just a job for me. It’s been a lifelong passion. I’ve seen how my work can make a difference in people’s lives and create lasting connections. Even behind bars, I continue to pursue my love for cars and hope for a better future.