By age 16, Earl Defreeze had long been involved with drugs and car theft. His father lives 10 minutes away, yet doesn’t acknowledge he has a son and definitely doesn’t take steps to make sure Defreeze grows up to become a productive man. Then, over a weekend of an unexpected magnitude, his life changed.
Defreeze was among more than 100 teenage boys, ages 13 to 18 years old, who attended The Steve Harvey Mentoring Weekend for boys in Dallas. Suddenly, the broken pieces that made up Earl Defreeze, and so many other teenage boys like him, began to mend.
“When Steve Harvey spoke to us this morning, it was like he came into my house, diagnosed my problem and gave me this weekend as a prescription to heal,” said Defreeze’s mother, Tammie Defreeze.
Prescribed by Harvey as a way to teach young, at-risk teen boys how to be men, his ranch was set up with tents that offered an abundance of life-learning activities. All across the acreage, young boys were mentored and participated in a wealth of skills-building activities. In addition, a $1,000 chess challenge with “Be Someone” founder, Orrin Hudson, taught them life lessons, discipline, responsibility and analytical thinking. More importantly, the boys learned how to have plain, old-fashioned fun.
“The person that motivated me the most was Terrence J,” said Daniel Dotson of the actor and television host best known for hosting BET’s “106 & Park.”
At 17 years old, Dotson of Nashville, Tenn., was skipping school, disobeying his mother and being consumed by a lifestyle of drugs and violence.
“Terrence J told us that there is no ‘Plan B’ and that we need to develop a ‘Plan A’ and stick to it until it happens like he did. And that’s what I’m going to do,” said Dotson.
Volunteers, including celebrities like Jermaine Dupri, Denzel Washington, media personality Stephen A. Smith, radio personalities, entrepreneurs and servicemen from several branches of the U.S. military, were on hand to pitch in their passion, patience and diligence.
“I paid my way to get here by dedicating my life to giving back and inspiring others,” said Myles Kovacs, co-founder of the automotive magazine, DUB.
Dr. Steve Perry, who served as moderator during the “You Can Be Me” panel, said his reason for being there was simple.
“I’m here because Steve asked me, and I know, if he was doing it, it meant something,” said Perry.
The boys were selected by completing an application and being part of a selection process conducted by the Steve Harvey Foundation.