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Troy Gaines grew up in Akron, Ohio in the 1970’s. He grew        When Troy was
up without his father.                                           released from prison,
                                                                 his first two goals
Troy has painful memories of not receiving any direction         were to find a job
from his dad about school, sports, or any other part of          and connect with
his life. He was a star running back for his middle school       his one year old son.
football team that won three championships. He felt like if      Now that Xavier is
he did well at football that his father would take an interest   8 years old, Troy is
in his life. He has vivid memories of waiting for his father     committed to helping
to show up after each of his football games, only to be          him with homework
bitterly disappointed.                                           and football, the very
In his own words, he “wanted to lash out.” Troy turned           things he desperately wanted
to other people and things to fill the void that his father      from his own dad. In fact, Troy
                                                                 tries to attend every game and           “. . . you have
had left in his life. As a result, he had several run-ins with
police, and starting in 2002 he spent a year at the Summit       practice that Xavier has. The            to make some
County Jail. At the time he went to prison, he was leaving       impact of Troy’s involvement
                                                                 in Xavier’s life can best be seen        changes in your
behind his 22 year old girlfriend, Stacey, and their one week
old son, Xavier. Troy recalls thinking that Xavier would feel    when talking to Xavier.                  life because
the same way about him as he felt about his own dad.             “With my dad at my games,                what you’re
It took a tragedy in Troy’s life for him to really turn the      I feel better and I care more.           doing is going
                                                                 I love him a lot because he is
corner. While in prison, Troy learned that his girlfriend,                                                to affect your
Stacey, was murdered by guys that came to the house              a very good dad. If you make
                                                                 a mistake, he’ll make you keep           boy.” — Troy Gaines
looking for drugs. Distraught from the loss of his
girlfriend, Troy realized he needed help on what it means        going and going and… make
to be a man and father. He had a renewed determination           you lift your head up.”
to be there for his son in ways that his father was not there    Troy knows there is a lot at stake in what type of father he is
for him. He was committed to breaking the vicious cycle of       to Xavier. “Kids do exactly what they see their parents do.
father absence.                                                  If I didn’t straighten up how I did, he would probably follow
It was at that point that he turned to a man named Frank         in my footsteps because he wanted to be like me.”
Williams, who was leading the InsideOut Dad™ program,            Troy tells Xavier at least five times a day that he loves him.
which is helping inmate fathers throughout the country re-       We can tell that Xavier knows it when he says, “My dad
connect with their children before they are released. Troy       loves me and would do anything for me.”
had asked Frank for help on how to be a better man and
father, and Frank was more than willing to answer that call.     Troy’s moving story is featured in a video that was released
(Frank leads the Man2Man Fatherhood Building Program             as part of the Connections Project, an initiative to train
in Akron, Ohio.)                                                 practitioners around the country on how to better serve
                                                                 fathers in a corrections setting. To view the video of Troy’s
Troy knew he was in the right place when he joined the           story, please visit The
InsideOut Dad™ program and became part of a community            Connections Project is being funded by the Bureau of Justice
of men that could support, encourage, and challenge              Assistance, a component of the Office of Justice Programs,
each other to be better fathers, even while incarcerated.        U.S. Department of Justice.
Troy remarked, “The [National] Fatherhood Initiative
program [InsideOut Dad™] helped me to realize you have
                                                                    For more information on the InsideOut Dad™
to make some changes in your life because what you’re
                                                                    program, please visit
doing is going to affect your boy.”                                                                             NATIONAL FATHERHOOD INITIATIVE

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