I’m the oldest of five kids from a small agricultural town, Santa Maria, CA. My dad was a concrete salesman, my mom a housewife. In addition to his day job, dad had a paper route he’d get up at 2 a.m. to do before his day job—a lot of hustle to make ends meet.
But money wasn’t my childhood issue. I didn’t feel safe as a kid.
Dad was a man of few words and very little involvement at home. Mom, suffering from her severe childhood wounds, had significant anxiety and was overwhelmed with the enormity of raising five kids. I felt like my brothers and sisters and I weren’t being watched over enough, and as the oldest, I took up the caretaker role for my siblings.
My primary thought became “I need to take charge of this place! I’m going to have to keep us kids safe.”
Fast forward to when I was 23.
I’d just finished college and hadn’t found my profession yet. I had a job, but surfing was my life. (As a fun fact about myself, I’ve made surf trips to El Salvador, Indonesia, Peru, Mexico, the Outer Banks in North Carolina, Hawaii, and more).
When I wasn’t surfing or working, I was being the big brother who did all I could to keep my siblings on the right path. That and baking pies and bringing them to friends. (I have an obsessive personality, and pies became an obsession.)
One day I’m with my surf buddy Ryan, and he’s telling me about what he does. “I’m a personal injury attorney. We fight for people that are injured, and the better the client does financially, the better you do. It’s risky,” he says, “but you can make a good living doing real good for people.”
I had no doubt that I’d found the profession I was born for. I knew I’d be highly driven to do for others what I wished someone had done for me: provide protection.
Within two years, I had my law degree. That’s how determined I was to be a personal injury attorney.
Best of all, I’m getting a chance now to take care of my own kids. I have four children and a wonderful wife. I’m also close with all my siblings because we’ve always made an effort to be so. My mom and dad have kept evolving in their lives, and we’re closer than ever.
It was miserable going through the abuse from the coach, but to this day, one thing from that painful time puts a smile on my face. I remember being at a deposition and what I felt about my lawyer. Being around him made me feel safe because I could tell he was in charge of the situation. And I thought, “Wow, this is a cool guy. It’s cool that he does this. He’s fighting for people that got hurt.”
I feel honored and fortunate for my profession. I get to wake up every morning and fight for people who got hurt—by no fault of their own.