Editor's Note: Some 63 percent of federal prisoners have children under the age of 18. When this young woman's father was sentenced to 25 years in prison, it sent her life spinning out of control, but it is her continued relationship with him that has helped her get it all back together. Vanessa Vega, 17, is a participant in the Changing The Odds/YO! Youth Outlook summer program.
SAN FRANCISCO -- Ever since I can remember, my dad was always there for me. He raised me on his own because my mom wasn’t the best role-model and was more interested in finishing high school than raising me. I mean, my dad wasn’t a saint, but he did what he did to give me everything he never had.
For the first 13 years of my life I lived with my dad in San Francisco's Oakdale projects, 1100 block to be exact. My dad was more then a dad to me, he was more like my hero. Rain or shine, my dad was there. I know it was hard for him to raise me because I was a girl but he never gave up, never asked anyone for help. None of my family was there to support him because he was out on the streets getting money the only way he knew how – in order to support us.