I don’t even know where to begin this post. All I know is I need to get these thoughts out of my head. I think thats what I need right now? I’m not even sure of that. I literally just found out two hours ago that someone I’ve known, love, loved, grew up around, rebelled at, confided in ,helped, defended, visited, left and stayed with people and relationships, jobs etc for on advice given since I was eleven years old is dead. You’re probably all confused but I”ll try and explain but I can tell you this won’t be a short post.
Some of you may have known of or heard of depending on your age a person named Tony Ayala Jr also known as Antonio Ayala Jr also known as his boxing moniker “El Torito” (little bull). He was a famous boxer in the early, very early 80’s on the rise to superstardom. He was a Mike Tyson before there was a Mike Tyson. He was unbeatable, unstoppable in the ring. Boxing that is. You can learn more here : Tony Ayala Jr.
This is what Tony looked like at eighteen when I met him. Remember I was eleven years old at the time.
You’re probably wondering what an eleven year old is doing around an eighteen year old and if you went to the above link what an eleven year old was doing around an eighteen year old boxing star in prison and accused of rape right? Here’s how it happened. At the time of Tony’s arrest, his girlfriend at the time was working with my mom. When he was arrested the feds seized all his money and property and that left Lisa, his girlfriend at the time no where to live and with no money. My mom offered to let her come and live with us until she could figure out what to do. When she moved in, Tony would call the house from prison to speak with her and she thought it would be a good idea if I talked to him. After getting my moms permission (yeah don’t down my mom for her decision. That one decision allowed an amazing person to come into my life) I began talking to Tony on the phone when he’d call and I would draw him pictures and mail them to him. (remember, I was 11 so yeah, I still drew and colored in coloring books)
Eventually Lisa, moved back to Texas and moved on with her life. Tony was convicted in New Jersey and sentenced to thirty five years. My communication with him never stopped. I literally grew up with him. He was only eighteen, me eleven and he went through my entire teen years with me, helping me with all the mistakes I was making and did make. The day I turned eighteen I was finally allowed to make my own decision to go and meet him in person on visitors day at the prison. Of course I went. From then on I visited almost every weekend until I was twenty four and too sick to keep going. When I was twenty six they transferred him to another prison much farther away from me so, we were back to letters and phone calls.
In 2000 Tony was finally released from prison in New Jersey and went back to his home town of San Antonio Texas (which was a huge mistake). He was getting ready to get back in the ring and again, still at the age of 33 almost 34 he still had what it took to be dynamite in the ring and was ontop again but, as it always happened in his life he got in trouble again in 2004 and Texas threw the book at him for parole violation. They slammed the door shut on him for the next ten years.
Tony in 2001
As it always happened when he got locked up, we resumed letters and phone calls. When I say letters an phone calls, I mean two letters per week and many phone calls. Tony spent most of his life behind bars. When he would get out he would disappear for a while and then resurface. That was just his way and I accepted that and him. By now you’re probably thinking there’s something seriously wrong with me to have been involved with a person all my life who was a violent man who raped a woman at knife point and a drug addict. On one level I don’t disagree with your thoughts but on many many more levels I completely and totally disagree and if you’re interested I’ll tell you why.
Tony was a very troubled tortured soul. From day one he never had a chance. The adults around him cared about one thing and one thing only. Tony becoming a boxing star, making money and getting them out of poverty and the barrio of San Antonio. Anything else that was happening to him didn’t seem to matter and it was ignored and or denied. He was molested when he was a small boy by uncles, he was doing drugs and drinking alcohol by the age of nine. He was not allowed to finish school either. The objective of his father (God rest his soul) was the ring. By the time Tony was thirteen he was a full fledged drug addict and alcoholic. Now, does that excuse his behavior? No but it sure in hell explains it. This kid had zero chance of a normal happy life before he even began because those around him who were supposed to protect, love and nurture him turned away .
To me, I never saw the angry young man. I never saw the drug addict, the alcoholic, the violent man he could be. Why didn’t I see it? Because he NEVER showed that side to me. EVER. If you ever asked me who I would feel safest with in this entire world my answer would have been Tony. All the rotten things the media and boxing fans called him (those who didn’t know him one bit) I never saw. He never projected at me. This horrible person they made him to be was the same person who in my teens got me through my awkward stage, my first true love, my first devastating break up, my first job, my problems at home. When I hit my twenties he got me through my first marriage and divorce, the beginning of my illness (always positive and loving), I went to visit Tony so many times in prison I can’t even count them. If you’ve never been inside a prison I can tell you from first hand experience it’s not a place you “want” to go. It’s frightening and most of the inmates are as frightening as things you see in your nightmares but the minute I would see him come down from his cell block I knew I was safe. No one would dare trouble me.
You’re probably also wondering if there was ever anything romantic between Tony and I .. All I can say to that is…yes and then no..I will tell you though, I have been kissed many times in my life but the most perfect , sweetest, loving kiss I ever received was from a man in prison. But, for as nice as it was ( I can still remember it to this day) we both agreed there was something wrong. We were too close. We grew up together. He in prison me on the outside. After the initial pleasure we both felt from that kiss wore off we quickly agreed it felt like kissing a sibling. It would never work. So, it began and ended there never to resurrected again.
So you see, you may think Im insane but what I saw, the Tony I knew, the person Tony gave me, and what he gave me was himself. The real him. The man no one really ever knew and who was that? An extremely intelligent (got his high school diploma three times along with a college degree in prison) person, a boy who grew into a man with a heart that could, at times, when he would let it happen, love deeply and passionately. A man who would protect those he loved with his own life but, he was also a very troubled man. He had demons that he couldn’t get past. No matter how much counseling he got no matter how much he tried and I’ve never seen anyone try harder to get beyond the damage that had been done to him He would get out of prison go back to all the same places, make the same mistakes and the heroin would come along and rip everything he worked so hard for right out of his grasp.
Tony in 2015
The devil finally grabbed him for the last time in May of this year. He put the heroin within his reach and Tony, making the same mistakes he always did, grabbed it and it was the last time. In May of this year he was found in the gym he co owned with his brothers slumped over, dead from an overdose.
Why am I writing about this now? Because I just found out. Tony started pushing everyone away a while back. Me, his mother, brothers, etc etc. I knew he was in trouble (Im sure he knew too) but he just pushed farther and farther away until finally no one could get in touch with him and when you did he didn’t want you “in his face”. So, I did all I could do. I let him go and prayed. I got angry and changed my phone number, ripped up ten years of letters and just prayed. His mother tried to contact me but she couldn’t. I regret having changed my number but I did it because I couldn’t handle it anymore. I knew he was headed down that same bad road again and after thirty four years I couldn’t go down it with him anymore. In all honesty I fully expected he would end up in prison again and spend the rest of his life there. I never, ever expected an overdose would take him. Why I didnt expect that, I have no idea. Thats pretty stupid when I think about it at the moment. Maybe I just held out hope he would turn it around because I know how smart he was. Problem is, when he was on the outside he didn’t know how to live life. He knew nothing but drugs and chaos. Truth is, without prison, he was lost. No structure etc.
So, tonight as I sit here writing this post, I cry and I get mad. I cry some more and I get angry some more. Mostly angry. Why? Im angry that he didn’t have the ability to love himself. Im angry that he didn’t know how to live a normal life. Im angry that those around him from day one destroyed him and watched him self destroy and did nothing. I’m angry that he will never have another chance to get it right. I am angry that the people I love most keep dying leaving me here without them. I’m angry that the one person in this whole big screwed up world, who knew me better than anyone on this planet, including my husband and my mother (that is saying something) is gone. Tony knew me more than anyone ever did or ever will. We had no secrets and any secrets we had from the world we confided in each other. I am angry that heroin has taken yet another person I love.. I am angry that , he is gone.
I am simply…. hurting and angry….