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Past Does Not Define You

Students Learn That The Past Does Not

Define Who You Are

by Aimee Cloutier, Deputy Court Clerk

City of Zavalla

Damon West came to Zavalla ISD on Friday, May 12, 2017 to speak with the junior high and high school students. Mr. West was pulled over on April 14, 2017 by officer Anthony Ross for speeding 69 mph in a 55 mph. Officer Ross gave Damon a speeding citation for his excessive speed. Damon called Zavalla Municipal Court and spoke with me and told me his situation.

Mr. West was just released from prison on November 16, 2016 from a life sentence with 58 years of parole. Damon West was sentenced to a life sentence of 65 years in prison for Engaging in Criminal Activity. He was so determined to take care of this ticket as soon as he possibly could in fear of going back to prison. It later came up in the conversation that Damon was a motivational speaker and speaks for different schools and colleges about his life story with drugs. A lightbulb went off in my brain and thought this would be a great thing for our students at Zavalla ISD to hear.

I got his contact information and told him to call Judge Julie Alston the following Tuesday and speak with her about him coming to speak for “community service”.

On Tuesday, April 25, 2017 I was filled with joy learning the Judge approved for him to come and talk to the schools. I was on the phone with the district counselor, Emily Roebuck minutes after that. After everything was approved, I called Damon and told him it would be a go for him to come speak with our students.

On May 12th Damon came with his friend Mo. The presentation was bone-chilling amazing. He was a starting quarterback for the University of Texas, worked as a stock broker, worked on presidential campaigns, and so on. Then we learned that he got hurt playing football in 1996 against Texas A&M and his football career was over. This is when he turned to hard core drugs and committed property crimes like burglaries of homes and buildings. Damon then told about how the Dallas Swat team caught up with him on July 30, 2008. He went on to prison and fought his battles to exist in an independent gang.

He clinged close to his family’s support, a 12-step program and any other programs that were available. This made him a better man spiritually, emotionally, and physically.

When Damon West finished his presentation, there is no doubt in my mind there was more than one student and adult with a life changing experience. I believe God put Officer Anthony Ross watching that stretch of road for a reason. That reason was to get Damon and his partner, Mo to speak with the Zavalla ISD students about drugs and how it will forever change your life. Here is Damon’s “Coffee Bean Life Lessons”

1. Habits and Behaviors are

difficult to change.

2. Forks in the Road.

3. Footprints in the sand.

4. Debts demand to be paid.

5. You don’t have to win all your

fights, but you do have to fight

them all.

6. The Coffee bean.

7. Face your fears - Never allow

limits on yourself.

8. Exercise Daily: Spiritually,

Mentally, and


9. Secret to Life: Serving others

and humility

10. Four spiritual principals:

Unselfish, honest, pure, and


11. Goals and planning.

12. Your past does not define you.

For more information on Damon West go to

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