|Danny Foster's mugshot|
27 years ago, my mother and father were not working out either. Mama left Dale in 1986, when I was 3, and took us to live with her parents, my Mimi and Granddaddy.
Reuben and I were at different ages during these events so I knew my father better than Reuben ever got to know his.
I was 6 when my father stalked my mother, ran her off the road on the way home from work, put a rifle to her face and pulled the trigger.
Rueben was only 18 months old when Danny showed up at their house with a gun and homicidal intentions. Danny shot the both of them and fled. Reuben's life was spared because his mama held him and blocked him from the bullets. Reuben was only hit once, in the back, and miraculously recovered fully. Anita also recovered, despite her many wounds.
My mother also did not die that April day in 1989. She drove 7 miles with a bullet in her arm. When Dale raised the gun, she ducked and threw her arms up in time and she was only wounded in the arm.
She drove 7 miles after that to get home to me. When she pulled up in the drive honking her horn, I was the first one out the door to see what was wrong. She was covered in blood and screaming for me to call 911, "Dale shot me!"
She recovered completely from that, though she had to learn to be left handed because her right arm required skin grafts and a brace. But she survived. And she was my rock for the next 6 years.
Mama was killed in April of 1995 in a supposed accident that was never fully explained. It was written off officially as an accident, as the police were unable to determine that foul play was involved. She had been having an affair with a married man for a couple years. They had been lifelong friends and his marriage didn't stop them from getting together anyway.
The day before the accident or whatever, all hell broke loose. His wife had found out about their affair and called the house to threaten and cuss. I answered the phone and she said, "Let me speak to that whore, Susan". In the strange world that I live in, I am now Facebook friends with this woman, and have gotten some of her side of things along the way.
Nobody will ever know what really happened that night, as the man that was involved died a few years ago and took the truth to the grave with him.
I was raised by my mother's family. They are great people and I was never without love. Family is the most important thing in the world and they were always there for me. I was raised by aunts and uncles and older cousins and my grandparents until 2000 when Granddaddy died and 2002 when Mimi died. But I was an adult by then.
Reuben was raised by his mother and his mother's family also. He never knew his father and never knew where he was. His mother's family, understandably, hid all that from him and didn't want him to know about his dad.
My family did the same thing in a way. Reuben's dad was on the run for 16 years before being caught Feb 8th, with Reuben closing in on 18 years old.
My dad was released from prison in 2001 when I was 18 years old. As a victim in the case, I was sent paperwork notifying me that he was up for parole, way before he was released. My family hid this from me and I never knew he was even about to get out until months after he was released.
I looked him up through different sources online and got his phone number. And called him collect from a pay phone one night. Then arranged a meeting with him. I took a friend with me and we drove to Decatur, AL where he lived at the time, and had lunch with him.
Here I was sitting at the dinner table with my father. A man that I had never really known and certainly didn't have around for any part of my childhood really. And certainly had every reason to hate.
And even though the gravity of what he had done in the past was hard to overcome, and still is, it didn't matter that day. I just wanted to know who he was and talk to him face to face.
I didn't see him again for 9 more years. In August of 2010, I got pnuemonia and almost died. It really hit home with me how important life is and how important family is, no matter what they've done in the past.
So I looked him up again. This time, though, I didn't just go up there for a lunch with him. I took my wife with me and we stayed the weekend. Met a lot of his family that I didn't remember knowing. And I found that I fit in perfectly with these people. It was one of the best weekends I've ever had.
I'll never forget what he did in the past, but it has no bearing on the person he is right now, at this time, and I finally was able to get to know him as a person and truly forgive him.
When the news broke on that Friday afternoon that his father had been captured in Florida, Reuben took to Twitter and wrote that he was crying. He said the tears were pouring! He wrote on there that he never knew his father but he always asked about him and his family would lie about him and hide the truth. You can't blame a family for wanting to do that after what the man had done.
I don't blame my mother's family, MY family, for not wanting me to see my father and I don't blame them for hating the fact that I have a relationship with him now.
But it's my life and I had to find a way to make myself happy and move on from all that pain and that's what it took for me. I had to see my father and find out what kind of person he is and get his side of the story. Not that there's any justification for what he did, but just to hear from HIM what happened. I made him tell me in great detail what he did and why and what all led up to it and all this. We talked on the phone for about 5 hours that first time I called him in 2010. If he hadn't have wanted anything to do with me, that would've been fine too, but I just had to know for myself.
Reuben is in that position now. Not only did Reuben's dad shoot his mom, but he shot HIM too. That's a whole other level beyond what my dad did. But Reuben wants to know his dad and nobody can blame him for it.
Reuben initially announced in the summer of 2011 that he would attend the University Of Alabama when he graduated high school. As the No. 1 rated Linebacker prospect in the entire nation, he received alot of hype and attention. When he committed to Alabama, he and his mother were living in LaGrange, GA. They moved to Auburn, AL where Reuben attended Auburn High School and that is where the craziness began.
Auburn University's Wide Receiver's Coach and Recruiting Coordinator, Trooper Taylor, was hot on Reuben's trail. He was able to establish a relationship with Reuben through his son who was a student at AHS. Reuben eventually changed his commitment from Alabama to Auburn.
Alabama fans were pissed.
Reuben's reason was that he wanted to stay close to his mother and his family who meant so much to him. His mother wanted him to go to Auburn and so he decided he would do what his mother wanted, even though he had always been an Alabama fan and personally wanted to go to Tuscaloosa, as he would later admit.
In the final month of the recruiting process, rumors swirled and things changed, with Reuben ultimately deciding he would flip back to Bama and he signed with Alabama on Wednesday, National Signing Day.
Auburn fans were pissed.
And alot of Alabama fans were pissed, too. Alot of us had decided we didn't want Reuben anymore, because he seemed like a prima donna that wanted attention and all that. Alot of people just assumed he was some kinda thug or an idiot and would be a cancer to whichever team finally got him. But none of us KNOW Reuben. We just unfairly lump him in with alot of other recruits who are overhyped and play different schools against each other for attention.
On Wednesday afternoon, National Signing Day, after he had signed with Alabama, he wrote the following on Twitter: "Tide Nation, I would like to apologize to y'all and I'm sorry for being the brat I was. SORRY! But HEY I'm back HOME and hope y'all accept me"
I don't think those are the words of a young man who wants attention and thinks he is owed anything. I think he was truly sorry that alot of people had taken him the wrong way and wanted to let us know where his heart was. Nick Saban even spoke at length about him in his press conference that afternoon and said that Reuben is a good person with a huge heart and he truly didn't want to hurt anyone's feelings. He always tried to please everyone until he learned late in the recruiting process that he couldn't.
No matter what decision he made, he was going to have to disappoint thousands of people and all he could do was follow his heart. Which led him to The Capstone
Even though he knew his mother really wanted him to go to Auburn. Can you blame him for wanting to please his mother so much? After all, the woman LITERALLY took bullets for him, to protect him. His family means the world to him.
Reuben is a guy who is going to want to please everyone and do things the right way. He's not going to be going out and getting in trouble at Bama. That's not to say he'll be a perfect saint. He'll probably be a college kid like any other. But he is going to work hard and do what it takes to follow Coach Saban's instruction because he knows at the end of the day, that is going to make him a better football player and more importantly a better person, and man.
I think we will all be very pleased with what we actually see from Reuben and we will all forget about our misguided assumptions and conclusions that we came to over how Reuben handled his recruitment.