- As a teen, Kyle Quilausing played golf against Tiger Woods, ranking fourth in the world.
- His promising career as a golfer was derailed as a teen, and he ended up in prison until age 39.
- This is his story, as told to Kitti Palmai.
As I grew up in Hawaii, I knew I had a bright future in front of me. I was competing against Tiger Woods in golf until age 17, and after 16 titles and ranking fourth in the world, I landed one of the best college scholarships.
But I became arrogant, and my pride got the best of me. Six months before graduation, I was expelled from high school.
The news spread quickly, and people were judgmental. So I wanted to go to a place that was far away and completely different. I spent five years in Alaska before I decided to go back home at age 23. Little did I know, Hawaii was in a crystal-meth epidemic — and I'd ultimately lose everything and end up in prison. I share my story so no other kid ends up on the same path as mine.
My first time getting high
The entire Big Island was flooded with the drug. All my best friends were addicted to it and offered me "ice." Back then, I was still good. I didn't drink or do drugs. But one day, after putting my surfboard on my truck, I turned around and saw my friend standing with a crystal-meth pipe in his hand. He said: "Come on, Kyle. For a boys' round, one time."
All I did was inhale, and when I blew out the smoke, I blew out everything that was instilled in me as a child — all my love, respect, and self-worth. I became addicted. To afford the drug, I stole cars and broke into houses. I was a menace.
I ended up on the run for four years. One day, I even appeared on the news. For the first time, it wasn't for my sports performance.
I was 29 years old, 98 pounds, addicted to crystal-meth, and Hawaii's "Most Wanted" when the police caught me.
But three months later — while in prison — I planned and executed one of the biggest escapes in Hawaii to fuel my addiction. Twelve days and three high-speed chases later, I was caught again and considered high-risk, like murderers.
I spent the next 3 years of my life in isolation
Shackled by chains from head to toe, I was flown to Honolulu's Halawa Correctional Facility, where I spent the next three years in a windowless isolation cell.
I was fed through a trapdoor and received a little soap and a toilet roll once a week. I had to bathe in the sink. My facial hair grew, and my skin lost its complexion because of the lack of sunlight. I worried about my hygiene, lost any sense of time, and didn't have any human interactions.
I drifted to a dark place: suicidal thoughts, depression. Every sin I committed hit me. One morning, the voices were so loud that I was ready to lunge forward in my cell and smash my head into a wall.
But I had an epiphany. Something physically held me back. I didn't grow up in a religious family, but I dropped to my knees and prayed, in case he really was out there. After saying amen, I felt this instant warmth in my entire body.
I kept doing my best
After my release from isolation, I was transferred to a high-custody prison in Arizona. To find out whether I was predator or prey, I was beaten up and stabbed on the first day — all my teeth were knocked out.
To keep my sanity, I kept myself busy with activities, such as exercise, writing, and praying. I had video visits with my family, who supported me throughout that time. I got into fights and almost died many times, but the isolation cell had made me stronger and prepared me for prison.
When I finished my sentence at age 39 and flew back home, I experienced a lot of judgment from the locals, and I couldn't find a job.
A friend invited me to a school to talk about my experience. I was reluctant, but the positive feedback I received from the kids was heartwarming.
Sharing my story with children has become my mission, and I've visited a lot of schools since I was released eight years ago. I visit all schools in Hawaii for free, it's my way of trying to give back to the community after all I did.
I came out of prison with a focused mind, a grateful heart, and a soul filled with passion. And I'd do it all over again to keep these children safe.