A veteran film star, best-selling author, renowned advocate for violence prevention, and the first Cuban-born football player to land a tryout with the Miami Dolphins, Victor Rivas Rivers has achieved extraordinary success in numerous arenas. But given his violent upbringing, few of those achievements were ever likely.
If not for a handful of individuals who were willing to take a stand on his behalf, Rivers doubts he would be alive today. At age 12, Rivers visited his local police department to report a lifetime of crime inflicted upon a child – himself – and upon his mother, siblings, and pets. Though the officers were horrified, they could do little to stop Rivers’ father. The torture perpetuated behind closed doors, they said, was “a private family matter.”
At age 15, after his father kidnapped him and his siblings, transporting them to a different state, Victor ran away, living briefly on the streets before taking then-unprecedented legal action against his father. With a restraining order to protect him, the court allowed Victor to become an unofficial foster child. Through the help of his high school, he went on to live with a series of families – who oversaw his transformation from rage-filled gang member to senior class president.
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