There truly aren't words strong enough to describe the darkness Gerardo experienced growing up the son of a drug cartel's hitman.
"I don't like to remember it. My childhood was very difficult," he said. "My first memories are of constant insults, scolding, beatings."
For as long as he can remember, his dad has always worked with “bad” people.
“In the south of Nuevo Leon, he worked with a family of drug traffickers as a hitman (Sicario), protecting his boss's back. When we came to Coahuila, he started working in the same way for several years. After that, he began moving drugs to the United States and several other countries, and eventually he moved all of his drug trafficking business to our home in Coahuila. It was one of the biggest hubs for drug traffickers," Gerardo said.
Soon a new cartel came to town and began dominating the territory, killing off Gerardo's father's coworkers. To save his life, Gerardo's father started working for the new cartel as a drug dealer. "The cartel realized that I was his son and they asked me to work with them, not to sell drugs, but to be a hitman, a Sicario. I refused," Gerardo said.
Eventually, Gerardo's father himself became a victim of the drug violence he helped perpetuate. "When they killed my father, he was locked in the CERESO [a well-known system of Mexican prisons]. He was released and they ambushed him and killed him. Then my grandfather came from Acuña and avenged him by killing the police," he said.
This endless cycle of drug violence took a toll on young Gerardo. "I grew up with evil in my heart. I grew up thinking that problems were solved by killing people," he said.
Thankfully, somebody had the courage to invite Gerardo to a local community center, where he quickly learned about the Saved by Soccer program, which he says has helped him learn that there are good people in the world, not just the violent ones he knows from childhood.
"That, more than anything else, has helped me grow and start to have love for others and want to help people."
For someone who has been thrown so many devastating challenges in life, Gerardo is remarkably resilient.
"I don't want any pity. That is simply what I have lived and I don't wish it to anyone. But what I want is for my testimony, my life, to help somebody else. If God can rescue me, he can rescue anyone. I know it's difficult because you don't see a way out when you're in a situation like that and you might think death is the only way to end your suffering," he said. "But no, the way out is through love. You have so much to live for, and you can work to dislodge your mind of the bad things that are keeping you trapped."
Learn more at savedbysoccer.com