A year and a half ago, Christopher Rodriquez was paralyzed from the waist down. Chris was at his piano lesson when a stray bullet passed through the walls of the studio. His life was changed in an instant. It would be a freak accident if the bullet had magically appeared, but that wasn't the case. The man who fired the gun, Jared Adams, was convicted of a dozen of felonies, not the least of which was this "accidental shooting." As he was robbing the gas station across the street, he started shooting at an attendant who was dialing 9-1-1. There was no magic about it, just malicious physics.
Christopher is twelve years old. He plays piano. He lives in Oakland. There are a lot of reasons why this story hits very close to home for me. I am the father of a twelve-year-old piano-playing kid from Oakland. I am always amazed at how resilient my son can be. I am amazed at how resilient Christopher was. This is what he told the man who put him in a wheel chair: "I'm sorry about your financial problems, if that's the reason why you were robbing. And, I also want to say I forgive you. I just hope you realize there are other ways to make money that do not break the law."
Mister Adams probably won't have much of a chance at finding other ways to make money anytime soon. The judge gave him seventy years to life for the month-long crime spree that included carjacking of former state Senator Don Perata at gunpoint. It all ended on January 10, 2008 when Jared crashed his car attempting to flee the scene of his last in a string of crimes. A year and a half later, once the courtroom had cleared, Rodriguez approached Adams and shook hands with him. For a kid in a wheelchair, it's amazing how tall he stood.