Kevin “Big Sticks” Hagan paroled to Los Angeles on April 14, 2011 after spending 28 years in prison, the last 16 of which were at San Quentin. Now he divides his time between the California Youth Authority, where he’s a teacher and mentor for incarcerated youth, and the security team at GBK productions, where he has worked at events like the Academy Awards, the American Music awards, the Golden Globe Awards, the NAACP Image Awards, and the Kids Choice Awards.
How are you staying on the right track?
By remembering where I came from, and in knowing that those I left behind are counting on me to represent to the fullest. I hope to pave a way for them by leading by example.
My family has been so supportive and loving. My job is to help raise the little ones coming up. I love doing it and sharing quality time with them. I have a very special lady in my life, Lesia, and she’s just everything I was looking for in a woman. I am blessed to have a 5 year old grandson that keeps me on my toes and has become a very big force in my life, as I have his.
What are the most difficult aspects of life on the outside? How do you work through them?
The most difficult aspect of life is how rude and inconsiderate people are out here, and how everyone is so impersonal. I also had to learn not to take it personally. I had to take a good look at myself and reevaluate the way I viewed things and shed that prison mentality. I work through these times by using many of the philosophies that I learned in the self-help groups that I was able to utilize at “The Q”. I don’t let much get me down, because the big picture is freedom and being out here with family.
“Don’t let your situation take
your spirit, nor change the unique
individuals that you are”
What were some of the most valuable programs you participated in at San Quentin?
The programs that really made an impact on me were the SQUIRES program, The Catholic Church, IMPACT, VOEG, The VVGSQ, Brothers Keeper’s, The Arts In Corrections. I gained a lot of insight about the triggers that made me think the way I did before I committed my offense. And of course putting myself in the shoes of those whom I have hurt — empathy is the word I am looking for.
Were there any turning points during your time at San Quentin?
One turning point for me was watching several of my friends pass away in there, and saying to myself that when my time comes, I would like to pass at home with my family. The other turning point for me was returning to Jesus Christ.
Any messages for the men still inside?
I love all of you guys. Don’t think for one minute that I have forgotten you. I keep you in my prayers and in my heart as I walk this walk and not just talk. You guys are with me every step of the way. As we say, before you can help anyone else, you have to have yourself straight. The only thing that stops us is ourselves, and every one of you has the ability and know how to make things work for you. I am very proud of all of you, and waiting for the day when we can go have lunch. Don’t let your situation take your spirit, nor change the unique individuals that you are. Always see yourselves outside of those walls, and keep it one hundred percent with you.