KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Reico Hopewell is a familiar name in Knoxville. Born and raised here, he made a name for himself as a high school basketball standout in the early 1990s.
Despite a promising future, Reico admits he threw it all away over drugs.
Now, he’s 13 years clean and giving back in a big way.
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Years ago, his skills on the court and his leadership at Bearden High School led to a full scholarship to Maryville College. But the year after graduation, Reico’s life took a dramatic downward turn.
“My father,” Reico says, ” was killed in 1992, and shortly after he was killed, I started experimenting, I started using crack cocaine.”
He went on to tell us, “I left college, and after I left college, my life became a train wreck.”
Drugs consumed Reico’s life for the next 15 years.
The Roger D. Wilson Detention Facility became home away from home.
“In and out of institutions,” Reico says, “in and out of jail, and loss of family. The bridges were burned, they were burned.”
Looking at his mugshots from back then, Reico was a far different man than he is today.
Chief Steve Bravo with the Knox County Sheriff’s Office remembers Reico well.
“The last time he was here was in 2008, so he’s been out for quite a while and I didn’t know how well he was doing until, well, maybe a couple of years ago.”
“I went to treatment from jail, ” Reico says, “and I remember I wrote the judge a letter. It was during Thanksgiving 2007 and I said, ‘Hey, could you give me one more chance? I promise I won’t do it again.'”
Reico kept that promise and is doing well today.
He helps by giving back by running a sober living community for men. He says he’s helped 2,000 men over the past several years, providing them a place to stay, taking the necessary steps to live their lives clean and sober.
“Most people know because I’m very candid about it,” Reico says, “God set me free, so I’m here to set other people free. I’m not here to keep what all God’s done for me to myself.”
For more information on the Mend House Sober Living for Men, call 865-801-9061.