West inspires LC-M CISD staffers at convocation

Published 6:47 pm Friday, August 7, 2020

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By Van Wade

Little Cypress-Mauriceville CISD Superintendent Stacey Brister brought in Damon West, an author and inspirational speaker, who brought his story to teachers at this year’s LC-M convocation and it certainly grabbed everyone’s attention in a positive way.

“It was a great and powerful message of hope for sure and he’s such a great guy,” said Brister. “It was such an honor to have him here. Our staff really soaked it all in and appreciated it.”

“He overcame a very tough situation and turned it into so many positives,” Brister said. “As educators, you worry about kids and how they fit certain criteria and Damon, with his message, really helps everyone learn how to make good decisions and good choices and how to keep someone along that healthy path.

More than four years ago, West, a former Port Arthur Thomas Jefferson High School and North Texas quarterback was released from state prison after serving seven years and 3½ months of a 65-year sentence for organized criminal activity while battling a drug addiction.

Since then, he has been a “gem” for so many communities, schools and athletic programs through inspirational speaking.

He has been honored numerous times for his messages to schools, college football teams, churches, youth groups, prisoners and many other organizations.

“It’s been about making good decisions and becoming an agent for change,” said West. “God has opened a lot of doors for me.”

His favorite example of such an agent is a coffee bean, which changes the color of water when it’s heated rather than softens like a carrot or hardens like an egg. West also has videos on YouTube where he often gets to interview people including head coaches from major-college football programs.

West said his speeches are tailored for each audience.

“If you have a bunch of junior high and high school kids, you can’t tell the same story you would to college football players about prison,” West said. “When I talk to college football teams, I tell them raw stories about prison, and they’re old enough to understand.”

West is a best-selling co-author of The Coffee Bean: A simple lesson To Create Positive Change and his first book and autobiography was The Change Agent: How a Former College QB Sentenced to Life in Prison Transformed His World.

After a fateful discussion during his incarceration with a seasoned convict, West had a spiritual awakening. He learned, like a coffee bean, changing with the application of heat and pressure, he was capable of changing the environment around him. His story of redemption, grit, faith and determination really inspires audiences nationwide today.

His #coffeebeans message has inspired thousands, winning him the Service to Mankind Award in 2017. West’s messages connect with audiences on a level rarely seen, as evidenced by the lengthy and thought-provoking Q&A following each presentation.

“It is my hope that my story, my example, can show others that they are capable of way more than they think,” West said. “In order to stem the flow of pain in society, it is incumbent upon each of us, whether in life, in school or business, to be like the coffee bean from my story.”

He currently works as a legal assistant for the Provost Umphrey Law Firm and is a professor of criminal justice at the University of Houston Downtown.