Joseph is one of the strongest kids you will ever met, but the strongest thing about him is his heart. At the age of 6, he entered foster care with his siblings due to drug use and neglect of his mother. Joe never knew his father because he has been in prison since before Joe was born.
In the system, things did not get better for Joseph. He would spend the next 4 years bouncing between foster homes and group homes. He was always the smallest and was bullied everywhere he went. Joe had to learn to fight to survive against the other kids and against some adult caretakers. He developed an anger to protect himself and was so hurt he didn't want to let anyone in, especially males.
In February of 2016, this anger boy came to live in our home. I got calls daily from his school for fighting with kids and teachers. I picked him up out of the back of police cars often. He was only 10.
Slowly, Joseph came to trust us and began to let his anger go. In September of 2016, he agreed to let us become his forever family. With this permanency, came new opportunities for him. We could finally put him in a sport of his choice.
Joseph began Jiu Jitsu last October. He loved it right away and it has changed him completely. The sport has taught him self control over his entire body. Before he would hurt you even when he didn't mean to because he didn't realize how hard he was doing something or realize how strong he is. For the first time in Joe's life he has friends and extended family in our Jiu Jitsu team. It gave him something to relate to other boys in a good, positive way.
One of the most important things Jiu Jitsu has done for Joe is taught him respect. He's learned respect for adults and peers. He has learned from his coaches that you can be tough and still be kind and considerate and he truly looks up to them. He’s learn what a good man looks like and aspires to be like them. This lesson has been beneficial on and off the mat. He is doing well and trying hard in school now because he doesn't want to dishonor his team and coaches.
This is his passion and he has done well. To date Joe has won 4 out of 5 tournaments he has competed in, including: 2017 Kids Cup Champion, 2017 Grand Canyon State Open Champion, 2017 AZ State BJJ Champion, 2017 Kids World Gi Champion He plans on competing in at least 4 more this year.
Jiu Jitsu has changed him and changed his life. Joe doesn't do Jiu Jitus because his new dad wants him to or because it's another extracurricular activity for him. Joe does Jui Jitsu and does it well because he knows what it means to fight to survive. His drive and strength run deeper than anything I've ever seen before. He fights with everything in him.
He is an unforgettable kid, if you ever have the honor of meeting him you will never forget him. I know he's going to change the world one day because he definitely has changed ours.