First-person accounts from off the beaten track, as told to Anne Ford

“I was at home sleeping, and my youngest brother, Micah, had came home from an evening out, and he got into an altercation at this place in Stone Park called the Stay Out All Night Discotheque. When I woke up, I seen him load one of my assault weapons. I grabbed it out of his hands, and said, ‘What the hell are you doing?’

“He said his girlfriend and my girlfriend had been out all night, and he went looking for them. He got in an altercation with the bouncer, and about seven, eight people jumped him. He came home, grabbed one of my weapons, and tried to return. I said, ‘You’re not going anywhere.’ I says to him, ‘I’ll find out what happened.’

“I put on one of my pistols that I always carried. It was second nature: I got dressed, I put on my gun. I never even thought about any weapons play. I went back to the club. This was approximately 7:30 in the morning.

“I walk up these stairs, and that’s where I’m accosted by a bouncer. He grabbed me, and I karate-chopped him in the throat, and he went down. I heard someone else swearing at me, and I saw him getting off a bar stool, pulling out a weapon. So I drew my weapon and shot. The other guy jumped back up and shot, so I shot him. I got out of there and proceeded to get ahold of a lawyer. I surrendered about 11 hours later.

“The gentleman getting off the bar stool happened to be a police officer. They originally sentenced me to 40 years. The appellate court knocked it down to 30, and I did just a little under 15. I was 25 when I went in, and I was 40 when I got out.

“About three years ago, a friend of mine—Jimmy Andre, who is the director of photography for Humble Pie Films—asked me if I wanted to try out for this movie, Fancypants. He set up an audition. They said, ‘Read this. Throw punches.’ Then they said, ‘Don’t hit the camera! Don’t hit the camera!’ On the final callback they said, ‘If you want the lead, it’s yours.’

“I was still on house arrest, because I had three years’ parole. I had a parole officer, and he was a movie buff. I told him I got this role. I said, ‘I’m going to have to start wrestling training, and how am I going to do that with this ankle bracelet on?’ He calls me one day when I was at Sam’s Club and said, ‘When you get home, cut off your ankle bracelet.’ Because of me working and taking care of my family, being clean on my drug tests, they released me three, four months early.

“One of my friends who had done 20 years in prison got into a successful car dealership business. He had said, ‘It’s going to take you at least three years till you see positive things, so don’t be deterred by nothing happening right away.’ Before three years out, I’m offered this movie, so he’s like, ‘Look at you now, you prick.'”