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Javon Ellis opens a book to page 21 and begins to read: "He wanted to put a gun in my face and take my dignity. But I didn't let him."
It is the story of a 12-year-old boy on the streets, about to be robbed of money and jewelry, his only possessions. "I stood my ground and I was ready to die. But I still have my pride," he reads.
Ellis reads without emotion - even though the story is his own. The memory is quite vivid. "I felt like I just had to be bold, but I was scared though," he recalls.
The early childhood he remembers is filled with happy times with his father. That all changed abruptly in January of 2008 when his father, Jose Rivera, was shot dead.
"I was closer to my dad more than anything," Ellis said. "So when I lost my dad I felt like I had no body to turn to."
At 13, Javon left school for the streets. He said he could not reconcile his anger at what happened to his father enough to concentrate anymore. He proudly lived what he called the "thug" life on the streets.
"I had lost my Dad, I had thought that's the only way to be. To be cold-hearted to survive. It was either jail or prison or dead. One or the other."
Four years later, he considered a third option. To simply give up.
"At first I thought about giving up, then I started writing," he explains. All of a sudden everything he was holding inside was being released.
"When I started writing, then I thought about maybe I could do something more positive."
His finished book is called "Marvin's Room" - a title meaningful to him, but a mystery to readers. It has been published and is for sale on Amazon and other online outlets.
"I look at this every day and every night and, yes, I accomplished this," he said with a huge smile. "It's like a dream for me."
It is the story of a hurting 13-year-old, written with the wisdom of a survivor. By documenting his life, Javon Ellis says he also saved it.