Special Profile Series: Robert Guerrero
AR: You now live in Houston, but has that always been home?
Guerrero: I’m a Houston boy — born and raised here. I grew up in the inner city of Houston on the east side of town, and then when the high school years came around, we moved to the suburbs. My Dad wanted me to have a more stable environment, and that was the principal reason we moved.
The inner city was rough; the neighborhood I grew up in was very tough. It was the “hood”, complete with gangs, drugs, thefts … you name it. I saw street life at a really young age.
AR: You’re right; it must have been a tough neighborhood. How about your core family? How did they deal with these stresses?
Guerrero: We are a very loving family, but like a lot of families, we had our problems. My parents divorced when I was young, and at about the age of 11, I went to live with my Dad. I thought it was more cool to live with my father than my mother at that time but what I didn’t appreciate then, like I do now, was the fact that I was heading into such a tough neighborhood with a lot of negative influences. In addition, Dad was, and still is, in sales at a dealership and was working six days a week. I had just too much free time on my hands.
Luckily, my grandparents were there as a support system during the transition from moving from mom’s to dad’s place. We actually lived with them and near them at different periods, and my grandfather would do a lot of things with me and for me … like drive me to school, take me to football practice … things like that. At the time, I probably thought he was just helping out, but he probably was looking out for me and making sure I did not let the neighborhood drag me into its grip.
AR: Certainly, those experiences at such an early age had to have had an impact on shaping your vision of life.
Guerrero: I know it did. And I’ve never wanted my daughters to have to experience the kind of challenges I had to endure.
But on the flip side, I never want them to forget where our family’s roots are from either. I take them at times back to the old neighborhood so they can get an appreciation of a life that others have to live. We visit the graves of family members and eat as a family at one of the neighborhood restaurants. It is still rough, maybe even rougher than it was.
Now I don’t want to say everything was bad. Sure there were the gangs and guys who did drugs and stole cars, but there were a lot of good families as well, who might have been poor financially but were rich in values. It was those guys who were my friends and with whom I hung around, and as a matter of fact, one of them is still one of my best friends today. Many of us were athletes so we did a lot of things together. The things we did to get into trouble would be considered minor compared to the troubles that some of the other guys were getting into.
AR: Who was someone who had a major influence on your life and kept you out of serious trouble?