Some of you may have noticed a new face around the gym over the past few months. His name is Campbell Lillard. Campbell has an amazing story that I wanted to share with all of you this holiday season. Campbell grew up here in Dallas just like many of us, but he made a very bad decision in his youth that began a cascade of more bad decisions. It was a decision that many of us made in our past, but the way that it affected him was dramatic. It’s very simple – Campbell tried drugs. Unfortunately for him he was quickly addicted and eventually he became addicted to heroin. As many of you know, this is a horrible drug that can easily steal your life away from you, and that is exactly what happened to Campbell. In 2008 he was convicted of aggravated robbery and assault and sentenced to ten years in prison. While Campbell was in prison he discovered fitness. He spent years defeating drug and alcohol addiction and cleaning up his body. He also read everything he could get his hands on about fitness and he discovered CrossFit.
When Campbell first contacted us about wanting to join CrossFit Odyssey, John and I were both concerned. At first, we were worried that he might just be a thug who wanted to steal from us or harm us in some way. However, after meeting him and talking to him and hearing his story we both decided that not only was he a good guy but that it was our duty as a part of society to help this young man find his way back to being a healthy and successful contributing member of society. However, that brought on more concerns. Our gym is almost entirely compromised of 40+-year-old members. At a CrossFit box community is an incredibly important part of a person’s individual success and we were concerned he would have difficulty making friends with people 15 to 30 years older than him. We were also concerned as to whether or not he would be accepted by our members.
When Campbell joined us we were upfront with our members and told them his story. We were shocked by their reactions. They felt for this young man and they admired his spirit and his passion for fitness and his drive to clean up his life and become the man he was meant to be. Many expressed that we or our kids could have easily gone down a similar path. Not only did they give him a chance, but many of them offered to help him out – offering him odd jobs, helping him find work, and offering him any advice they could give him. Campbell has also taken the initiative and acquired his Level 1 CrossFit certification, a CrossFit adaptive athlete certification and last week attended a power-lifting seminar. He is also working on a personal trainer course. He is serious about fitness and his career in the field and is taking the time to become the best he can be at it. He understands the value of hard work, perseverance, and integrity.
The re-entry into society is difficult for anyone after a stint in prison. Lots of people/companies say they are willing to hire ex-felons but when push comes to shove they don’t. Yet we expect people to get out and become productive members of society without the tools and opportunities to be successful. This is why recidivism is so prevalent. People must be able to support themselves with honest work. If you have paid your debt, we need to provide a hand Up not a handout.
Thank you to all of you who have made Campbell feel welcome as part of our community. It instills in me a lot of faith in my fellow humans who are willing to give a man the chance to be who he was meant to be.
John and Ellie
POST NOTE: Since this blog was posted, Campbell is now coaching for us part time as well as interning for The Phoenix – a gym dedicated to helping people recover from addiction and turn their lives around. I am so proud of this young man I can’t even describe it. He has taken his mistake and done everything he can to make good on it. That is all a person can do. I have heard a lot of people say that people who commit heinous crimes do not deserve a second chance, but I disagree. Every time someone turns over their life and becomes a successful member of society we ALL win. Also, sometimes it takes a person who has been through Hell, to save the rest from going through Hell. And that in itself is priceless.