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  • WXYZ Detroit 7 Action News

    Author turns life around by embracing writing during decade-plus in prison

    By Jasmin Barmore,


    Life after lockup for some is challenging. But for one Detroit man, he said he was determined to not let those challenges phase him.

    Before getting released, he said he promised himself he would never be back.

    “Just being in those circumstances,” Kenneth Holyfield said. “Having to wait two weeks to eat a Snickers. I had to wait two weeks to eat Doritos. The whole prison culture just was not for me.” WXYZ

    Holyfield says when he was 25, he made bad decisions because he was young and dumb.

    “I had an armed robbery charge,” he said.

    The choice landed him a 13-year bid in prison. He said while inside, he learned early that prison was not for him.

    Today, Holyfield is 41. He has been home from the St. Louis Correctional Facility in Michigan's Gratiot County since 2021. WXYZ

    He says now, he is making better decisions. But that all started when he was serving his time and another prisoner inspired him to write a book.

    “My first two books, I wrote them while I was incarcerated,” Holyfield said.

    Holyfield authored "Welcome 2 Detroit: Deeper Than Rap" and "Welcome 2 Detroit: Deeper Than Rap 1.5" during his prison stint. He says the books are a historical timeline of Detroit’s history. WXYZ

    What inspired him to write about his hometown was to teach other prisoners about the Motor City’s rich culture.

    “I would be incarcerated... and these guys would be from Detroit and they couldn’t tell you nothing about the city,” he said.

    He says his family helped him sell the books on Amazon and inmates would have their family members buy a copy and mail it to them at the prison. WXYZ

    Eventually, he said the books were in the hands of inmates all over the facility.

    Currently, Holyfield is wrapping up his third book, which will be the conclusion to the trilogy. He says the book will be available to purchase on Amazon next week .

    Before going to prison, Holyfield said writing was not a part of his life. But now, it has become his new path forward. Kenneth Holyfield

    But perhaps the most important lesson Holyfield says he has learned from the decade-plus he spent behind bars is personal responsibility.

    “A lot of times people always say they made a mistake,” the author said. “Anything that you think about, that’s a bad decision. A mistake is if you walk and step on somebody's shoes."

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