Broken glass from the windows of abandoned houses lay on the street and bulks of trash covered whatever patches of grass were left, this was the young boy’s view growing up in the inner city of Chicago, Illinois.
“I have seen people fight, get shot and people becoming drugs addicts,” said Toy Airman 1st Class DuBois Toy, 5th Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle maintainer. “If you were in the wrong place at the wrong time you could get jumped, robbed or worse.”
Toy felt like an outcast. He stayed home most days and couldn’t explore his interests or learn about himself due to his environment.
“I was always the outcast where I’m from, or at least the area I was in,” said Toy. “I was into different things than other people in my school. I also dressed differently than everyone.”
Tired of Chicago’s inner city violence, Toy’s parents moved the family to a better neighborhood in Dolton, Illinois. Where, Toy made friends much easier.
September 21, 2017 - U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class DuBois Toy, 5th Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle maintainer, takes a break from skating in Minot Roosevelt Park. Being in the military has helped Toy realize he has become a stronger person socially, spiritually, mentally, physically and financially. (Image created by USA Patriotism! from U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Dillon Audit)
In this safer environment, Toy tried different sports and met friends with different interests, one in particular who just started to skateboard. Interested in the sport Toy bought his own board and joined his new friend.
“When we skated I enjoyed it because it felt like a challenge, we were in constant competition with each other,” said Toy. “Thats when I started developing a passion for skateboarding.”
This passion served as an outlet for the stressors of everyday life and a way to interact with people from all walks of life.
“I found that skateboarding is the most fun, diverse and sociable sport out of all of them,” he said.
As Toy got older, he witnessed the skater lifestyle and began to see skateboarding as a culture.
“Your mind just opens up to how diverse it is,” said Toy. “You meet tons of different people, overall it was super fun. I wanted to continue to live that lifestyle.”
After high school, Toy wanted to experience new things. College didn’t seem like the right fit, Toy said. Open to options for his future, he remembered his grandmother was in the military. This possibility piqued an interest.
“My grandmother was in the military and told me that she met all a lot people and had all these different experiences,” Toy said. “I thought, ‘Would I still be able to be myself in the military and have the same lifestyle?’”
Hoping for a similar diversity and culture in the Air Force, he took a chance and joined August 16, 2016.
“Basic training was really tough for me because I wasn’t used to military discipline,” said Toy. “Sometimes, it was super hard to the point where I felt like quitting.”
Even with the stressors of his new life, Toy didn’t give up on the military, skateboarding or himself. While in technical training, he said skateboarding continued to serve as a stress reliever. That mentality carried forward to his first duty station at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota.
“Skateboarding makes me happy and it’s definitely a good workout,” said Toy. “It’s a different place, a different world.”
Toy skateboards to work every day, practices as much as he can and always looks for new friends to share the culture with.
“It’s my passion, I have an emotional attachment to it,” said Toy. “Everyone has those times when they have troubles, and I went through a lot of that in my childhood. For a very long time the only family I really felt I had were the people at the skate park.”
By U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Dillon Audit
Provided through DVIDS
Comment on this article