Born into a family beset by drugs and gangs in Pacoima, California, his future prospects seemed dim. Junior Cervantes displayed athletic promise on the soccer field, but depression dragged him down. His uncles were shot in front of the house. There were family arrests, fighting, and chaos, reports Mark Ellis, Senior Correspondent, ASSIST News Service.
Junior decided to run away from home and drop out of his beloved soccer. He opted for hanging out with friends, robbing houses, smoking marijuana and tagging.
“I was a stealer. I was a liar. I was angry. I was depressed. I was lonely. I was an outcast,” Junior recalls.
His uncle, Edgar Cervantes, kept insisting that Junior move in with him in Santa Monica – about 25 miles away — and straighten up his life. In and out of jail for most of his life, Edgar had two “strikes” under California penal law and was scared of getting the third, so he turned to Jesus to clean up his life. He worked a restaurant job in Santa Monica and preached on the Third Street Promenade every week.
It was through Edgar’s influence that Junior prayed to receive Christ as his Lord and Savior. But because of Junior’s background and some of the influences swirling around him, he faced a rocky road to maturity in Christ.
One night Junior went out with his old friends and they got involved in tagging – spray-painting graffiti in an area to mark their turf. When police unexpectedly showed up, Junior and his friends ran, and in their haste, Junior left his backpack and I.D. behind. Now his I.D. was in possession of the cops and it would only be a matter of time before they came calling.