“We’re all we got”

Dreak Scott shares about growing up in North Tyler, separation from his brother, Kyle, and the years-long lesson that it wasn't his fault.

photography by Jamie Maldonado

First off, I’d like to say this is a whole bunch of people out here. But from what I can see, all of y’all are very beautiful. So, let’s start off by saying “love, strength, and perseverance. And we are all we got.” This is a story between two brothers from North Tyler. Growing up in North Tyler is pretty real.

Oh, I guess I got to tell you guys my name. I’m Dreak Scott. Growing up in North Tyler, I grew up in Liberty Arms Apartments. My mother, my brother, and a few friends. Growing up in Liberty Arms was pretty rough. But there, I’ve seen a lot of good times, too. I had my first fight, my first kiss, and my first football. Yeah.

Everything was real, man. It was very true. Very true. We’d seen a lot of things that I don’t think we were supposed to see. But in those surviving times, we still found great times out of all of it, like going to my grandmother’s house where before we were anything — football players or hard workers — we became The Temptations.

Dreak with his mom and brother, Kyle.

We watched The Temptations pretty much every day. At my grandmother’s house, we ate grits, biscuits and gravy, and my brother’s favorite, what he liked to call it “pannycakes”. My little brother Kyle. He was four years younger than me. He had a beautiful smile, a chubby face, but a stern face when need be. You know, surviving times.

We had a lot of good times, like going over to my uncle Stevie’s house when we learned how to walk. That’s where we learned how to ride bikes, and learned how to skin fish. We thought we were tough. As well, we met our number-one friend, Afsheen Hatami. Afsheen’s dad was from Iran and his mother was from the Philippines.

Dreak, Kyle and friend, Afsheen, at Liberty Arms Apartments in North Tyler.

He used to call us “wah-wah.” Still to this day, I have no idea what that means. But that’s what he called us. At Afsheen’s house, we always had chicken alfredo and cantaloupe. I know, weird, weird combination. But at Afsheen’s house, all night we’d play video games until early in the morning, and then we’d watch our favorite three movies, either The Mask with Jim Carrey, The Little Rascals, or our favorite, The Sandlot.

The Sandlot was a good movie and it probably made you afraid of dogs. Yeah. But in those trying times, we also seen a lot of bad times, a lot of rough times. Like a lot of domestic violence in our home, mentally abusive and physically, but it didn’t change our hearts. It didn’t change the way we thought. But growing up we didn’t really know what was going on, but we knew things weren’t normal.

But for us it was our normality. Growing up, a few years later then, I was 12 years old and Kyle was eight. We moved around a lot. And on November 12, 2006, my life changed forever. I asked our neighbor, could they watch Kyle while my mom was gone? A lot of people didn’t know that me and Kyle stayed at home a lot, alone by ourselves. Sometimes days, sometimes weeks, or even close to months at a time. We always had to fend for ourselves, and that’s when we begin to gain the motto, “We all we got,” because we were all we had, and that will still never change. 

On that day, I came home from football practice where I seen a cop in front of my house. Me being the fearless, but fearful, 12-year-old kid I was, I drove down the street on my bike and I pulled up right next to the police car and I asked them what they were doing in my house. Why did I say “my house”? Because they didn’t know.

So they asked me, “Son, do you know where Dreak Scott is?” Heart beating, very fast. I say, “Yeah, I know Dreak Scott. I think he’s still at football practice.”

After, I rolled down the street on my bike. In my head. I didn’t trust cops. Around where I’m from, they were just like robbers and thieves and murderers. They were nobody that we trusted, and that’s just kind of how it was. Very scary, I know, but that was just a reality for us. As I walked in through the back patio door… let’s pause real quick.

Locking the door, or unlocking the door, might be a small thing or even a big thing to some. But for me, it was very huge. Very detrimental to my life, because locking this door, to me, keeping this door unlocked meant that we were going to be in foster care, meant that we were going to be separated later on in life. And just a very heart-wrenching decision that I forgot to make. Moving forward, I walked into the house where my little brother was having an asthma attack. I quickly got to my mom’s room where his asthma pump is, and I make sure he gets his pump. Everything is God’s timing. There was no way I was supposed to make it to that house before anything could have happened.

But it did, right in time. I told Kyle.

“Go upstairs. I’ll be up there in a second,” and I went downstairs to grab my mom’s weapon.

I went back upstairs to where Kyle was, and I told him everything was gonna be all right, because, “Remember Kyle, we all we got.” Holding a cell phone and a weapon in one hand, the cops did end up coming to into the house upstairs to where me and my little brother was.

Being a 12-year-old kid, nobody knows what to do in these situations. You never know how you’re going to react. You don’t even know what you’re feeling. You still don’t know what you’re feeling. With a phone and a weapon in hand, the cops weren’t violent. But I still didn’t trust them.

They told me, “Son, we’re not here to hurt you. We’re here to help you.” Now that didn’t make sense to me. “Y’all here to help us? Nah, y’all here to take us away.”

And I knew that. I called my mom multiple times, and she never answered the phone. Me not knowing what to do, I instantly dropped my weapon. And I just begin to cry. I don’t think Kyle had ever seen me cry like that, other than when I was getting a whooping.

He began to cry as well. They took us downstairs where we seen our neighbors that I had asked that morning to watch Kyle. They ended up reporting us. Let’s pause one more time.

As a 12-year-old kid, that didn’t make any sense to me. I didn’t trust anybody from that point on. But as a 25-year-old man today, I understand that they were trying to help. But back then, they were the enemy. I felt betrayed. I felt hurt. I felt lost. Not knowing if me and Kyle were going to be in foster care for months or years, I didn’t know what to do. The first foster care we went to was in Frisco, Texas.

I told Kyle when we first got there, “Kyle, if you don’t want to talk to them, you ain’t got to talk to them. Just talk to me and I’ll relay the message.” And that’s what he did. He reminded me, “Dreak, we all we got. We all we got.”

But after being in Frisco, Texas, for a while, we moved to Wills Point, Texas, and eventually they split us up in Tyler, Texas. Even though we came back home, we were still separated. That hurt me a lot. Really shook me a lot. I was very lost and very angry for a long time. I didn’t understand a lot. I really didn’t know what to do without Kyle in my corner. But we still kept in touch throughout the years. 

Fast forwarding to the year, I believe 2016, I was 23 and Kyle was 18. I watched Kyle graduate that year. Let’s give a round of applause for Kyle. Kyle graduated that year. And it was…it was more beautiful than a wedding to me. I mean, to know the things that he’d been through, know the things that we’d been through. To see him walk the stage, to know that I had walked the stage. To know that my mother was there. Insane. It’s something that I never thought would happen.

Dreak with brother, Kyle.

That same year, I lived with a family that was much more different than mine. They were genuine, loving, caring, vulnerable, even sat at the dinner table and ate together. Definitely something I didn’t know growing up. It was also like living in China like, you know, I didn’t really… it’s different for everybody, you know. Y’all story might not be like my story. But it was definitely like being in China. Like I didn’t understand their language. Being in the dark forever and then coming to a world of light. It was terrifying. Very, very scary. Very scary. 

On November 28, 2016, I was in a room with the mother of the family. We just began to talk about my pain, talk about my past.

She began to tell me, “Dreak, this is not your fault.” I kind of laughed and was just like, “Yeah, it is my fault.”

She looked at me again. She grabbed me and she said, “Dreak, you leaving the patio door unlocked. You shouldn’t have had to make that decision, and it’s not your fault.”

I don’t know if y’all have seen the movie Good Will Hunting, a great movie, great movie. But I know y’all remember the scene where the older man grabbed the younger man, and he began to cry after he told him that it wasn’t his fault. Just imagine that in your heads right now. Me crying, somebody holding me. Something that I never really felt. Something I never really understood, either. I began to clench my fists and just cry and cry and cry. You know for me, tears meant weakness. I didn’t know that tears can mean strength. That day, a huge burden was lifted off my shoulders. Very freeing, like chains were released from me. As I just cried and cried and cried, and today I cry now, too.

Dreak, his mom and brother, Kyle.

So, fast forwarding to modern day, I’m 25 years old and Kyle is 21. He just turned 21 March 30th. Big dog on campus now. He’s a supervisor at a plant. He lives in Minnesota with my mother and he has him a girlfriend. Kyle calls me every day about his girlfriend.

My mother actually owns a hair salon up there as well. So she’s doing pretty well now, too. When Kyle comes home, everybody knows us together. The names Dreak and Kyle, Kyle and Dreak, they ring together. And for me, every day they will. Thank you guys.

Dreak Scott is a lifelong resident of Tyler and a graduate of Robert E. Lee High School. He works as a personal trainer at Tyler Athletic & Swim Club and says working out is his “passion.” On any given day, you’re likely find him at the gym, at Pots and Pans soul food restaurant, Chick-fil-A, or Sweet Sue’s. He loves spending time playing chess, doing yoga, writing poetry, and spending time with his family members—”they are all organic and unique!” he says.

Have a true personal story about life in Tyler and East Texas you’d like to share at the next Out of the Loop storytelling event? Email storytelling director Jane Neal and describe your story in a sentence or two.

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