Growing up, trouble literally surrounded UFC welterweight Curtis Millender.
A student at Arroyo Valley High School in San Bernardino, Calif., Millender said rival gangs encircled the school and recruited from its population. Football season was the only break in hostilities.
“We had probably three or four people get shot and killed that went to school with us from my freshman year to senior year,” he told MMAjunkie Radio.
Millender (17-3 MMA, 3-0 UFC), who recently outpointed Siyar Bahadurzada (24-7-1 MMA, 4-3 UFC) for his third straight octagon win, centered himself with wrestling and managed to stay out of the fray. He never once got into a street fight. It wasn’t until he got out of school that gang violence nearly found him. And it was his then-roommate who set it up.
“It was one of his boys,” Millender said. “He set it up to rob me.”
“Growing up, he was a good kid,” the 31-year-old fighter added. “Still one of the smartest kids I’ve ever met. He got mixed up with the wrong people and started drinking and doing drugs.”
One night, Millender came home early from his job as a security guard at a medical center. He had forgotten his key and asked the roommate to let him in. Getting no response, he arrived home to find all the lights on. No answer. So he went to the back of the building, where the placement of the apartment’s gas meter allowed him to get into his bedroom through the window.
“I had two twin beds put together so I could have a lot of space,” he said. “On the left corner, it was broken, so if you jumped on the bed, it would collapse. So I stood on the gas meter, opened the window – the window was already open, so I’m like, ‘What the hell is going on?’ I open the blinds, and it’s dark, but I see somebody running toward me.”
The unknown figure jumped on the bed, and it collapsed. Millender reached through the window and pulled the figure out to deliver a punch. Then he saw a gun, and turned around to high tail it out of the building.
“By the time I got into the house, he was gone,” Millender said. “Next day, I moved to Orange County. That was the day Michael Jackson died.”
It wasn’t Millender’s last brush with criminals. Late this past year, he caught a burglar rifling through his car. Although just minutes from a local police station, it took 30 minutes before authorities showed up, and they were traffic enforcement officers.
Later on, Millender got a call from his father, who said his former roommate was outside an uncle’s house ranting and raving.
“He’s smoked out and cracked out,” Millender said.
To this day, Millender stays out of trouble. Now that he’s got the skills of a world-class mixed martial artist, it’s potentially more problematic to solve problems with his fists. And he certainly doesn’t want to injure himself without getting paid for it.
He never was much part of that life, but he nonetheless left it behind, anyway.
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Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie
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