CLARION, Pa. – On Tuesday, Feb. 4, the Office of Minority Student Services and the Martin Luther King Jr. Committee sponsored guest speaker Darrick Rizzo, who shared his life of painful stories to the audience, many of whom were sitting on the edge of their seat in Hart Chapel that night.
Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, Rizzo, now CEO of Rizzo Production Recruiting, lived a life scarred by tragedy, lies,and tough decisions.
Rizzo described a picture of himself to the crowd saying, “There’s Little D. I grew up with a single mom and three sisters. The weirdest thing I remember from my childhood is when my dad would come over to pick us kids up for the weekend.” He continued, “The weirdest thing I remember was that he would blindfold us kids when he drove us to his house because he didn’t want our momma to know where he lived. But that was the least of my worries.”
Rizzo went on during the lecture describing his childhood, particularly the day that his mother determined that his family pack up and move to Pennsylvania. Rizzo said, “I was just sitting on the porch one night, you know, a little boy just watching people walk by, when a couple of drug dealers approached some lonely looking guy sitting on the block.” He jogs back across the stage slowly, as he then shouts into the microphone, “And then all of the sudden these low-life drug dealers start beating this guy with a hammer. And I am just sitting there watching. No one called the cops, no one told them to stop and I just watched for a bit, and walked into the house. That was a usual thing to see in my hood.”
One of Rizzo’s three sisters, Tracey, was brutally shot down by a 15-year-old as she was walking to a corner store. “I felt so much pain; pain that that I knew was going to hold me down. And this pain kept growing inside of me, building up into something much greater than I ever could imagine. But you know what I did, I accepted that pain as part of my life and I applied it to my journey to success,” Rizzo said.
As the echoes of applause filled the packed Hart Chapel, Rizzo continued to describe the story of having to put his newborn son up for adoption. Rizzo was 19 years old and a freshman in college, with nothing but sports on his mind. He looked up at a picture of his blue-eyed boy, and related, “His mom put him up for an Open Adoption. As a birth father, I didn’t have much of a say into whether or not I wanted to keep my boy. But I made a promise to myself that I would find him, and let him know who his true father was.”
However, the open adoption that Rizzo had hoped for was a ‘semi-open adoption,’ where the adopting parents lied and hid his presence until the very fateful day that, while on a business venture, Rizzo met the adopting parents and his son for the first time in 13 years. He added, “I wouldn’t have found him if I wouldn’t have networked with people, people moving forward with their dreams and with me actually living my dream. Pain comes as an obstacle, but I dealt with it and ran right through it, ran to a future that was brighter that I could ever have thought.”
Student Tracey Smith enjoyed the story of Rizzo finding his son. She said, “He’s an inspiration. I am motivated to do something positive.” Likewise, local Lisa Laugand remarked, “He was a dynamic speaker and his story was very intense for all to hear.”
Rizzo discussed with the audience his new recently published book, detailing his marketing skills and swift conversations with stars such as Michael Ohre and Jamie Foxx. Rizzo invited the audience to recite his “Pledge to Overcome.” As a unit, in one voice, Rizzo led the audience toward his goal, to challenge students to “feel you dream, if you feel it you live it. Yeah, I got so much pain, but it’s going to motivate me, motivate you, to be successful.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_facebook type=”standard”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_tweetmeme type=”horizontal”][/vc_column][/vc_row]