Brandon Reed lived a relatively uneventful life in west Fort Worth growing up. He had a great home life, hard-working parents and grandparents who supported him, and was the middle sibling to an older sister and younger brother with whom he fought and played. He looked up to his father, a hero in his eyes, because his dad never let his blindness hold him back or define him. Brandon had it all together.
All of that came crashing down in one moment. In 1998, at age 17, Brandon’s brother, Darius, was murdered just steps away from their grandmother’s house, a victim of a carjacking. Brandon, who was in school studying Kinesiology at the University of Texas at Arlington, spiraled out of control. “I took my brother’s death very hard.
I had no direction and no way to cope,” said Brandon. While Brandon had dabbled in what he called “street culture,” he had never been in any trouble or got caught up in any illicit activity, but that soon changed. To deal with his grief he turned to alcohol, marijuana and partying. Soon he looked up and found himself out of school, a father to five children and unemployed. The only option he thought he had to make fast money to support his situation was to sell drugs.
In 2002, at age 24, Brandon was arrested and convicted on a conspiracy to manufacture and distribute crack/cocaine charge. Even though he had no prior offenses, he was sentenced to the mandatory minimum of 11 years and three months in state prison. After his original sentence was commuted to 10 years, he ended up serving eight and a half years behind bars. “Prison has a way of maturing you. I realized while I was incarcerated, how immature I was because in order to survive in there, I had to grow up fast.” After his release from prison, Brandon spent four months in a halfway house and started the process of starting his life over again. The transition was hard. As a parolee, he had to constantly check in with an officer, even though he had no cell phone and he was required to hold a job even though no one would hire him. “I was so discouraged. I had zero self-esteem. I felt as though I had let my family down and I was on the verge of giving up.” Fortunately for Brandon, he didn’t have to.
Another resident in Brandon’s halfway house suggested he apply for a job at a Goodwill store as a Retail Team Member. Brandon interviewed and was quickly hired. During his five-year stint at Goodwill, Brandon worked at two different locations and excelled as a donation attendant and a pricer. Now that he was working a steady and stable job, Brandon turned his attention to what had always been his passion: fitness and training. Using what he learned in school about Kinesiology and his desire to help others, he began personal training on the weekends. Weekends became nights and weekends and soon, he was training full-time and working at Goodwill part-time. In 2016, Brandon left Goodwill and proudly became the owner and operator of The Train Station, his own gym.
Today, Brandon trains clients in fitness and nutrition seven days a week. He is an active father in the lives of his children and is looking forward to his upcoming marriage to the love of his life, fiancé Jacqueline. Brandon attributes his new found success to Goodwill. “Nobody wanted to give me a chance except Goodwill, that’s why I will always be grateful for the opportunity.”