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BY JACKSON SHARPE Unexpected Dreamer 110 Toombs County Magazine From an early age, Damian Turner was somewhat of a local celebrity. “I was getting kicked out of Head Start at five years old,” he said. “I grew up in the projects on 504 Winona Street. It was true, tremendous project living. Sometimes I only ate when I went to school.” Coming from a lowincome home, Damian and his two older sisters were all raised by a single parent. “My mom was there,” Damian said, “but she was working all the time to keep a roof over our heads.” With mom busy at work, Damian had extra time to improvise childhood. Free-lancing his way around Vidalia, Damian hoped word of his trouble didn’t get back to his mom. “My mom was tough on me—very tough. Up to the point where it might have driven me away in my younger years,” Damian said. However, when Damian wandered, it wasn’t always trouble he was looking for. Sometimes he found his way across town to a neighborhood full of kids playing pick-up baseball games or twohand touch football. Spending time with friends who lived in two-parent homes with financial stability, Damian could see his life was very different. “There were numerous times I used to dream of the ideal of having a family like this,” Damian said. “I know there are trials and tribulations in every household, but at the end of the day, I never saw their parents not show love to their kids.” Damian loved performing and making his peers laugh with his big personality; so naturally, school was a breeding ground for trouble. Damian often played with his elementary school principal’s kids, but Mr. Sharpe knew him better from Damian’s frequent and unfortunate trips to the principal’s office. Mr. Sharpe said, “Damian was a piece of work, but you couldn’t help but love him. In the 5th grade, he set the record for me having to paddle him more than any other kid.” Looking back, Damian recalls, “I knew he didn’t want to paddle me, like I was his own kid, but he had to teach me.” Word flew quickly about the infamous Damian Turner. “The teachers at the high school already had heard about me when I was at Sally D. Meadows,” Damian said. Looking back with his 30 years of life experience, Damian now A formerly troubled youth, Damian Turner refused to be another statistic. Chasing his NFL dream he finds an unexpected career showcasing his talent.


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