Copperas Cove man pens book to help youth, parents
By LYNETTE SOWELL
Copperas Cove resident Gerald Lee has spent a little more than one year getting used to freedom again, after spending 16 years incarcerated for his role in a 2003 convenience store armed robbery in Lampasas.
The brother of Charles Tillman, Lee took a different path than his brother, and he wants to share his message with local youth so they don’t follow in his footsteps.
Lee has written a book, “Finding Purpose: From Street Life to Finding True Purpose”, published by Walking Into Your Destiny Publishing. He spent about five days with publisher Sametria Alexander, who helped him write his story.
He will be holding a book signing at the Killeen Community Center on Saturday, March 7, from 3-5 p.m. The center is located at 2201 E. Veterans Memorial Blvd.
In his book, he shares his story of being in trouble from the time he was 14 years old through the day of the robbery, April 7, 2003.
He said he knew he had done wrong and there was no need to take it to trial. It was his rock-bottom moment.
“The sooner I begun with my redemption, forgiving myself, there was no need for me to stay in the county jail for years, waiting,” Lee said. On August 15, 2003, he was sentenced to 30 years and began serving that time at the Coffield Unit at the Texas Department of Corrections, in Tennessee Colony, Texas.
After his release on parole is when Lee began work on his book, in earnest.
“I have a little bit of help for the young men and women, and some words for parents. When it comes to troubled teens, it’s kind of a different perspective, things some parents just don’t think about.”
Bright spots in his tale include one of his teachers, Mrs. Gray, who encouraged him to complete his high school studies, which he did at the Avenue E campus. However, Lee continued to get into trouble, in and out of juvenile detention. But, in addition to soul-searching while serving his 30-year sentence, Lee continued his education.
Lee completed his associate’s degree in applied science and by the time of his release, was halfway through his bachelor’s degree in business administration. Presently he drives a truck for Tex Mix in Belton and said for him, he found work right away upon his release. He does look forward to resuming his college studies on the side, at some point.
“I wanted to reintegrate myself and find out what the world is like now, living, and then if I can implement school, in this world that I’m not accustomed to after all this time.
“When I first got to prison, they told me there was a college at the Gatesville prison and that I could get to the Gatesville prison, which was close to home, and get that degree. That was my mission.”
After he was able to be transferred to Gatesville, it was a Mother’s Day weekend and he called it the best Mother’s Day present he could give her.
He said families of the incarcerated also are impacted by their loved ones’ sentences.
“I call it, you do the crime, they do the time. She had to come in and get patted down. They search you as well, and she had to go through obstacles just to see her son. It’s hard.”
His message is twofold, for youth and parents.
“I understand temptation, I understand growing up as kids, I understand the mindset that we are in as young adults, as teenagers. I tell my daughter, you have to think before you act, and with thinking, you will come up with the answer. Develop a hierarchy of what’s most important. Your consequences have to outweigh your actions.”
For parents, he said the same temptation that adults have, kids have, and that a little understanding will go a long way.
“Your child is not a replica of you, your child comes from you.”
His daughter, 21, was five years old when he went to prison, and he gives his family and her stepfather much credit for raising her while he was incarcerated.
“In prison, family was everything. Without my family, I wouldn’t be where I am now. I kept myself grateful and appreciated my family,” Lee said.
For more information, call (512) 566-6401 or email@example.com