Despite her son’s now charmed life, Gloria Carter’s upbringing and adulthood was riddled with hardship.
Carter didn’t enter motherhood expecting her husband Adnis Reeves to leave after the birth of their fourth baby. But after 13 years together, Reeves fled the family home, severing the ties to his children and wife with every step he took.
The New York City clerk was now a single mother, living in a public housing complex, struggling to provide for her two sons, Eric and Shawn, and two daughters, Michelle and Andrea.
“Sometimes we’d pay the light bill, sometimes we paid the phone, sometimes the gas went off. We weren’t starving—we were eating, we were O.K. But it was things like you didn’t want to be embarrassed when you went to school; you didn’t want to have dirty sneakers or wear the same clothes over again.”
“Sometimes I took on an extra job as a security guard to make ends meet,” Gloria told USA Today in 2014.
The family's collective misfortune would push Shawn into Brooklyn's squalid underbelly. On one occasion, he would fire a bullet into Eric's shoulder over an argument about jewellery. One day, the gun would turn, and he'd be shot at himself. Three times, in fact.