Lazaro Vazquez, October 14, 2012

My name is Lazaro Vazquez. My first name is a Spanish variation of Saint Lazarus, and my last name descends from Spain. I’m half Cuban, half black. I was raised in New England, specifically, Plymouth, Massachusetts.

At the age of thirteen I moved to Hollywood, Florida, to be closer to my aging grandparents. My two brothers call me Kaey, as did most close personal friends on the streets. It is derived from the name Kaeynine, which I’ve been called since I was sixteen.

I was raised a submission wrestler, even before becoming a martial artist, which happened at a rather young age. Growing up in the New England projects, I had several fights at a young age, and was expected to win them all. So I did. Though I’m strong and bulky, I stand only at five-foot-three. I was raised to command respect by a Cuban father, born and raised in Havana, Cuba. He was five-foot-two. My father was very masculine.

We were three boys, my two brothers and I. They named me Kaeynine because I was quick to fight. They compared my fighting style and temper to that of a stray pit bull. I was ferocious.

Ferocious often got me into trouble. I’m in prison for repeatedly shooting a gang-banger who put a gun in my face and toyed with my life. I believed he had made the decision that one of us was going to die. I chose him. He survived and showed up to every court date and hearing, ready to testify, claiming he had been shot over a girl.

I held my peace, and never even took the stand or even gave a deposition. To this day, my side of the story is nowhere to be found on record. You can check. It’s public information.

I’ve got eleven more years to complete. I’ve done nine. Originally, I was sentenced to life in prison. Natural life. Meaning, you die here. But I won’t. Through the appeal process, I traded that life sentence for twenty years mandatory. I may be able to knock off another five years or more. I can only try and hope.