Jarryd Smith went from being sexually abused at the age of six, to becoming a substance abuser at the age of 13 and when he could no longer pursue his sporting career everything went downhill from there onwards leading to him becoming homeless.
After being arrested for more than seven times the 32-year-old is now a motivational speaker with two published books and uses his past to inspire the youth.
This is his story.
“I was 6-years-old when I was sexually abused for the first time by someone who was meant to be looking after my sister and I. By the time it happened again I was 12-years-old and I kept quiet about it because of the guilt as well as the shame. I was too afraid that I would get into trouble for it and at the time I was at an age when I was very confused – it was a secret I held on to for 12 years.
Being sexually abused did awaken my sexual awareness prematurely and I think over time my parents started to notice changes in my behaviour. I started to become more and more rebellious and when I was clinically diagnosed with ADHD at the age of six, I felt this desire and need to be noticed.
By the age of 13 when I was in Grade 8 I started drinking, the premature sexual interaction I had been exposed to through sexual abuse had become an addictive sensation. So, I searched for similar experiences in different ways through; drugs, stealing and lying – I went after pretty much anything that could give me an adrenaline rush.
Growing up I was a very talented sportsman, but the drinking soon became an issue at school and led to me being expelled. I remember how my headmaster once told my dad that I would go to jail because of my attitude towards life which is exactly what happened, I was arrested more than seven times.
Even when I did go to college my life took a complete knock, I continued to choose the wrong friends and was arrested on several occasions for; suspected car theft, housebreaking, possession of drugs and countless muggings.
From the age of 16 to 23, I was involved in gangsterism, stealing cars, credit card fraud, gold and diamonds, prostitution and housebreaking – I’ve been to rehab eight times.
Over the years I’ve lost my closest friends as a result of the life I chose to live; one of which got murdered and two received long-term jail sentences while I ended up on the streets.
I would sleep on three crates and a cardboard box, inject tik into my arms even after I had been given three months to live. Until one day when I was crying on the streets and I told myself that this was not how my story would end.
I reached out for help and this time I dedicated myself to working on my pain and fulfilling my gift. Nine years ago my life changed.
I decided to become a motivational speaker seven years ago and I have spoken to over 350 000 people around South Africa. I am now a life coach as well as the founder of a trust called Second Chance.
I have also since published two books. My first book details my true life story and was published in 2013. We have sold close to 4000 copies and counting around South Africa. My latest book was published this year.
The things I would say keep me motivated are; my passion with helping people, my passion to become the greatest version of myself as well as the relationship I have with God and the endless support from my wife and baby girl.
To everyone who is going through a difficult period in their life, my advice would be to speak up and admit where you are at. The greatest and most powerful thing a human can do is admit where they are at. The latter is the first step in moving forward. It is also important to understand that silence kills and whatever you don’t speak about, speaks to you in a negative way. You also need to be willing to cut off destructive things that are holding you back – tough choices produce good results."
Do you have an inspiring story you would like to share with us? Send us an email at Mystory@Drum.co.za