Derrick grew up on the streets of Canton, Ohio with his 5 siblings and his parents, having had a sister that passed away when he was an infant. Derrick was very active at a young age. He played percussion for a community marching band for a number of years and was a star athlete in a variety of sports all throughout his childhood up to his graduation from high school.
Derrick first got introduced to drugs and alcohol at the prime age of 13 when he smoked marijuana for the first time and started lightly consuming alcohol with his friends. His life took a major turn when, at 16 years old, he had his first child. Early fatherhood forced him to see life from a different perspective at a young age.
After the birth of his first child, Derrick continued playing sports. His life took another turn at the age of 17 when he gave his life to Christ at a Christian basketball camp in North Carolina. Derrick immediately got excited about his new-found faith and began attending Bible studies, church services and other faith-based events. After high school, Derrick earned a position at the Goodyear company in Carrollton, Ohio as a means to provide for his son. Doing so, he forsook his dream to play collegiate sports and eventually obtained full custody of his son at the age of 21.
Derrick’s life changed tremendously when he used cocaine for the first time at the age of 22. He would tell you it was a major turning point that led him on a long path toward destruction. Cocaine began to sink its teeth, and Derrick began using powder cocaine daily. Things got scary when he started to have mini seizures and convulsions. That lasted over two years during his cocaine abuse. In the midst of all of this, he developed a disease called Uveitis which attacks his eyesight. (He's had seven eye surgeries to date.)
Derrick stopped his cocaine use at the age of 24; that's when he started selling cocaine. That lasted for about a year and a half. However, the downward spiral had only began. Derrick tried crack cocaine for the first time at the age of 25. By the time he was 30, he was suicidal and spiritually broken. Derrick's addiction ruined his 9 year relationship with his ex-fiance and he finally lost his employment with the Goodyear Company due to his addiction. His drug addiction was now underlined by a demoralized state of mind; a hopelessness that led to the sense that life wasn't quite worth living.
Yet hope emerged. Through the cracks of the wood flooring in an old abandoned crack house, one could hear the desperate prayer in the midst of chaos as Derrick raised his hands to the only God he had ever known. Derrick's life finally took a turn for the better when he flew out to Orange County, California to seek treatment for the sixth time. He was told that his insurance had run out and that he needed to fly back to Ohio, but he was desperate for change. He cried out, "If I go back to Ohio, I'm going to die."
Derrick knew the difficulty he would face going home, so he stayed in California and found refuge in a sober living environment called New Found Life. He was put on a rigid and structured schedule, being forced to attend 5 meetings a day for over 4 months. That's when new life began to pour in. Derrick got high for the last time on March 2, 1996. He finally returned home in November of 1996. His new found lifestyle gave him the spark needed to continue in his sobriety. Though surrounded by much of the chaos that used to engulf his daily life, he kept focus by passionately working a 12 step program and regularly attending church services and events. He would passionately tell you today he is a "God-fearing man". Derrick met his wife in December of 1996. They took things slow for a year but finally got married on March 23, 1998. Derrick has been happily married for 21 ½ years and has enjoyed sobriety for over 23 years.
Derrick started working in the field of addiction in January of 1998. He became a licensed alcohol and drug addiction counselor in May of 1998. Derrick’s passion to help people came naturally. He attended college at the University of Akron and now has his Bachelor's degree in Social Work.
Derrick has since worked with sex offenders, criminal justice populations, troubled youth, residential programs for men and women and was the assistant director for an intensive outpatient program at the Tuscarawas County Health Department. He now possesses a multitude of certifications related to addiction and mental health and is heavily involved in his community.