Teen with a 16-Year Prison Sentence Becomes Successful Entrepreneur

If you ask Jose about his fondest memory, he’ll tell you about Little League Baseball. He wore number 35. The Harbor City Little League Phillies was clearly his favorite assignment, which I try to not take personally. Maybe working at DEUCE Gym can be his second favorite team. I’d be fine with that.

Jose Bojorquez is now the third paid intern at DEUCE Gym to climb the ranks through our non-profit, DEUCE Community Inc, which seeks out and develops the most motivated individuals we can find that are substance, system, and/or housing impacted.

When we both have our “Friends Hat” on, we talk about sports (mostly our mutual love for baseball). When we’re in development mode, we talk business and we talk coaching. On Wednesdays for example, we’re working together through his Business Prep 101 homework to streamline his organization, Clean Slate Mobile Detailing. In the in-between days, we’re mostly talking about coaching theory or his Coach’s Prep 101 homework.

That said, there’s so much I learn from Jose because of the parts of his experience I don’t know how to relate to. When he started working in the gym, he was still incarcerated. He earned his way into a program that allowed him to accept responsibility at the gym with an ankle monitor.

You see, soon after Jose’s fondest memories in Little League, his life would change forever in ways not dissimilar to most of the people in our program.

Jose is the youngest of three siblings to a single mother. His mom made and sold tamales in the neighborhood while holding several jobs to make ends meet and soon idle time, poor role models, and the street life would steer Jose into trouble. He’d start using meth at age eleven. He’d run the streets for days at a time without a place that would welcome him to sleep.

At 14, Jose would be arrested for possession. Ultimately, he skipped his court date until police spotted him tagging an ice cream truck, which landed him in three-month juvenile detention. His behavior in that institution upgraded him to a four-year sentence imprisoned at the California Youth Authority.

For a while, things were good. By 19 years old, Jose would join the Carpenter’s Union making good money and l with his girlfriend. Keeping his gang banging to just the weekend wasn’t enough, though. Jose earned a 16-year sentence that he would serve until this year.

“You develop this fixed mindset for so long,” Jose recalled. “You embody that character.”

That fixed mindset stayed with him even until the early days in his internship with us. It wasn’t until he understood that his life experience didn’t make him incompatible with the world, but rather that his skillset primed him for dramatic success would he shed his fixed mentality.

Now, Jose is a free man. He’s employed as an intern at DEUCE Gym and his start-up Clean Slate Mobile Details has trouble meeting demand. Last week they detailed seven cars in a day (a new personal record). According to my back-of-the-napkin math, Jose is hitting the ground running. If you need a wash, give them a call at 213-294-9277.

At the non-profit, we like to say we’ve got “a seat at the table for anyone who is hungry.” Jose is hungry and he’s eating well.

DEUCE Community Non-Profit