David Gift's Testimony

Well here is a summation of the most amazing unbelievable story you wouldn’t accept unless it came from the main character, me. ​I was born in Pittsburgh, PA until the age of about three with my Mom and Dad. From there we moved to Florida. 

I come from a very creative, musical, innovative and entrepreneurial family background. My Mom played percussion in a symphony and was also a DJ. Plus she was a Beautician. My Dad had a band in the Hill District. He played keyboards, piano, saxophone, sang, wrote, produced and everything. He was also a Master Barber. They worked side by side in their own barbershop salons from Pittsburgh to Ft. Lauderdale. In Florida I went to a performing arts elementary school where I learned to play violin, viola, recorder, keyboards, saxophone, sing, dance, tap, read music and play music by ear. I was even in a group called Pizazz. The director had me dancin’ and singin’ in a leotard. And not a male one either lol. I was oblivious that there was an alternative lol. Next, in middle school I played alto, tenor, baritone and soprano sax. Yup all of them. In high school I played in the Jazz and Marching bands where I was able to make my first visit to Disney World and Manhattan, NY. Two great field trips. Go Tampa Bay Tech Titans! I ended up being saxophone section leader and competed in recitals but I got kicked out of the band ha ha. It was still a good experience. I just wanted the band to play the radio smashes during timeouts at the football games.

All throughout my musical lessons and refinement of my innate abilities I was living in a very dysfunctional very broken yet very loving family situation. My Mom and Pop separated when I was seven. I didn’t see my Mom again until I was 19 at Florida State University unfortunately. That put my Dad in a real single parent situation for all those years, but he wanted that. Nonetheless, it was terribly uneasy. And not having Mom around was felt for years to come. 

In the beginning Dad and I got along great. We were super tight. As I got older that changed a bit and our relationship became unstable. It was rocky is an understatement. But our love would never fade and I am still amazed at all that he taught me. He could teach a profound lesson out of something as simple as mopping the floor. We were just going through it. Part of it was because of him not being financially secure. Although he was always working on that. He was definitely the legit #HustlerOfTheCentury. Another part was due to the major stress from his chronic health conditions. He was diabetic, had high blood pressure, and had four different surgeries on his foot, which was almost amputated. And he had quad triple bypass heart surgery after two heart attacks. 

Dad’s health issues, that were inherited from our genes, put him between a rock and a hard place. It was an ultimatum: either sale his barbershop salon “Sho-Ya-Rite” so that his income level could qualify him for Medicaid. Or keep the shop, struggle to pay for the medical supplies and treatment he needed, but risk his quality of life. He made the smartest decision, which he usually did. He sold it. Got Medicaid. And that’s how we ended up living in a warehouse.

​We had our spats; some real crazy situations I thought I wouldn’t make it out of. And in my Sophomore year we separated. Dad went his way and I got adopted by the Wilson’s. They're a great Holland family in South Tampa that took me in originally for a week, but ended up being till this day. Thanks to God first and foremost, but also to my H.S. guidance counselor Mrs. Hollingsworth. Amen. In between all of this moving around, drama, stress, poverty, strife ect. I was on my “I’m going to college grind!” My Junior and Senior years I was applying for all the scholarships I could find online and applying to the state universities that interested me. I was also applying for Financial Aid. Thanks to the College Reach Out/Upward Bound Program on the weekends who walked me through that whole process at the University of South Florida.


Graduation from FSU, Move to Atlanta, Corporate America, Jail, Prison, God's saving grace and more

Part 2