MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Anthon Samuel was just days shy of his eighth birthday when he witnessed the unthinkable.READ MORE: Travel Restricted From Southern Africa, Dow Drops 905 Points Over New COVID Variant Concerns
Despite struggling to cope at first he managed to turn his pain into poetry and is this week’s South Florida Survivor.
“March 20, 2001, people heard rounds,” Samuel reads from his phone.
“Once cops arrived to the scene a black male was found,” he said.
To Samuel, writing is a form of therapy.
“Someone was on a mission to gun him down.”
His poetry is his story of survival.
“He was going to murder him no matter who was around. But I wish he would have looked up to see who was looking down.”
When he was just 7 years old, Samuel was looking down from his Opa-locka bedroom window when he witnessed his father’s murder.
“My granny grabbed me and said ‘We have bad news, your father’s been shot.’ I said, ‘Okay, is he okay?’ She said ‘he died’,” Samuel says as he breaks down in tears. After a beat, “It’s good now. But talking about it is tough. You know. I needed my father.”
In the years that followed, Samuel says he was so angry.READ MORE: House Fire Displaces Hollywood Family
“I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I was so lost,” he told CBS 4 anchor Lauren Pastrana.
He got in trouble and bounced from school to school until his mother and grandmother came up with a plan to put him in taekwondo and football. The ideas was to let him act out some of his aggression in a sports setting rather than on the streets.
“Football turned me into the man I am today. That’s why I love the sport. It teaches you discipline,” he said. “Throughout college, I had to be at practice on time. Had to learn to get along with teammates and how to cooperate with each other.”
Samuel eventually graduated from Monsignor Edward Pace High School and played football at Bowling Green State University before returning to his hometown to play for the Florida International University Golden Panthers.
Last month, he graduated from FIU as a World’s Ahead Scholar.
Now, Samuel is stressing the importance of an education to kids in his community.
“Where I grew up at a lot of people don’t make it out. You’re surrounded by people who are constantly dying,” he said. “Growing up, I lost a lot of childhood friends to murder or to jail. You look around and you see these people dropping, you wonder, when is my time going to come?”
He’s determined to stop the cycle of violence and is using his creativity to spread a message of peace and hope through poetry and mini-films online.
“I would definitely say I’m a survivor because I avenged my father’s death,” he said. “I took a different approach. I could have taken that other path and been bad and become a delinquent, but I decided I was going to become better and get an education and not only that, but better my community.”
Samuel says he knows his father would be proud of him today.MORE NEWS: Driver Injured After Vehicle Crashes Into Lauderhill Daycare
He plans to return to school to get his master’s degree soon.