OPRAH: So the epiphany
comes in solitary confinement. SHAKA: Yeah. I
was waiting on mail call, which
is — when you’re in solitary confinement, it’s absolutely
the most important part of the
day outside of eating. And
largely because you’re hoping that somebody
just thought about you and
somebody cared about you. On
this particular day I got a few
letters. And I got one from my
son, my oldest son, Jay. OPRAH:
How old was he at the time? SHAKA:
Around about 11. OPRAH: 11?
SHAKA: When I opened the
letter, everything, all of the street
savviness, the prison
toughness, like it just
crumbled to the ground. Because for the first time, I
was seeing myself through the
eyes of a child I helped bring
into this world. And I read the letter.
And he said, my mother told me
why you was in prison. OPRAH:
Tell me what the whole letter said.
“Dear dad.” SHAKA: “Dear dad.
My mother told me why you was
in prison for murder. Dear dad,
don’t murder anymore. Jesus
watches what you do. Pray to
him, and he’ll forgive your sins.” That
part is what just shattered
everything. It was like I can’t
— whatever I do, if I never get out of
prison, I refuse for that to be
the legacy for my child. Like I
couldn’t go through the rest of my life
with him — that being the
final way that he sees me. And
it was heartbreaking. It was
heartbreaking on so many
levels. The first time that I
actually even was able to look at myself as this monster
in my child’s eyes. OPRAH: You
certainly knew you were in
there for murdering someone. And your
son saying, I heard you were in
prison for murder? Is that what
did it? SHAKA: That was part of it.
But it was the other part. That
Jesus watches what you do.
OPRAH : Jesus watches what you do.
SHAKA: And for this child to
have this view of life of good
and bad. Evil and — I’m being placed in
this category where I’m not
what a father is to a son.
OPRAH: Mm-hmm. SHAKA: I’m not a hero. I’m not
the provider. I’m not a role
model. OPRAH: Mm-hmm.