Mark Twain once said, “Good decisions come from experience. Experience comes from making bad decisions.”  Forty-four year oldCullman County native, Tee Jay Wilson, knows a thing or two about such experiences. As a young child living in the projects of Huntsville, Tee Jay endured unspeakable abuse that no child should ever have to encounter.  The kind of abuse that robs one of his youthful innocence and forever haunts the spirit, heart, and mind.  After moving to Colony, Alabama, Tee Jay’s past continued to terrorize him, so to escape the inner turmoil he resorted to drugs and was getting high at the age of thirteen.  By fourteen years old, he was addicted to crack cocaine and would spend the next eleven years making bad decisions that consequently led to him becoming a convicted felon.

In 2004, Tee Jay pled guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit drug trafficking and obstruction of justice, and in 2009, a judge sentenced him to twenty years in prison at St. Clair Correctional. Tee Jay Wilson had hit rock bottom. Upon being sentenced, Tee Jay was referred to an intense drug rehab program inside the prison known as, Therapeutic Community. The program’s interventions successfully taught him how to work through an authentic, specialized program of recovery through the program of Alcoholics Anonymous. It was during this program that Tee Jay reached for something other than the drugs he had always relied on to sustain him.  He reached for Jesus and not only found Him there but also found himself and his purpose in life too.  Tee Jay remembers crying out and declaring to God, “God, if you will give me another chance, I promise I will do what you have called me to do,” and he has since then made good on that promise. 

In 2010, Tee Jay gave his life to Christ and got his GED from prison in 2011. By 2012, Wilson had graduated from Therapeutic Community and became an intern in the program, and started teaching the program of recovery to others. He said graduating from the program is actually what opened up his opportunity for parole in 2013. After his release from prison, he went to live at Truth Recovery Ministries in Talladega.  Tee Jay graduated from there in 2014 and served as the assistant director of the place until he founded the Fresh Start Recovery Ministries in Lincoln, AL  in 2016. Fresh Start feeds men spiritually to help them recover from the deadly disease of addiction.  Wilson also manages New Beginnings Construction Company, which hires convicted felons who are having trouble finding gainful employment after being released from prison.  Tee Jay enjoys teaching drug prevention in schools and speaking to teens about the repercussions of drug usage.  Wilson has also been the head coach of Talladega College’s JV men’s basketball team since 2019.

Wilson is set to appear before the Alabama Pardons and Parole Board on Feb. 2nd for a hearing on a possible pardon for the charges of conspiracy to commit drug trafficking and obstruction of justice that he pled guilty to in 2004.  He credits God for giving him the opportunity for the hearing as he had not been seeking a pardon at all, although he admits receiving a pardon from the State of Alabama would be so nice as it would allow him to vote, run for a political office, own a firearm, and travel abroad, all things he is not able to do because of his drug conviction.  

Tee Jay Wilson’s redemption story is one of hope for the multitude of people who believe they cannot slay the monster of addiction. As a substance abuse counselor, Tee Jay’s message to the addict is that the heart’s desires are linked to one’s obedience to God.  He tells them that God is going to do His work in them and for real change, the addict has to put in some hard work too, remain humble and gracious, abide by the Golden Rule, and do what is right!  In his book, Pressure Makes Diamonds, Tee Jay shares his dark moments from molestation to drug use and how, in his own words, “God can take a low life run-of-the-mill criminal and crack addict and change his life drastically.”  Tee Jay Wilson has truly evolved from Drugs to Diamonds, and he is living proof that people do change and can recover.   

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