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He Made a Bad Choice Longing to Fit In 

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Nick Wells has found his passion as a successful gym manager and CrossFit instructor in Colorado Springs…yet just a few years ago at age twenty-eight, it seemed his future was over. "I had a sixty-year prison sentence. I was never getting out. I had determined either I was gonna take my own life or I was gonna die by suicide by cop.”

Nick had always been a good kid, many of his friends he knew from church. Then, when his was twelve, his mom, Laurie, a single parent of three, moved their small family from California to Colorado. Nick recalled, "It was kind of a culture shock. I didn't fit in. The rejection set in and I was like, ‘Well, I'm gonna fit in somewhere.’ Unfortunately, the people that I fit in with were the ones that were, you know, drinking and going out, and sneaking out. I felt wanted by that group.”

Laurie knew there was something wrong. “I felt like I had made the hugest mistake moving here because I left our support system. I always prayed for safety. I always prayed that the Lord would put a hedge of protection around him.”

At fourteen, Nick tried meth for the first time. He was immediately hooked. “I was like, man, this is it. This drug makes me feel cool, makes me feel confident. And so, I really started focusing on what can I do to get money for that?”

So, Nick began stealing and spent his high school years in and out of juvenile detention. "I could feel the sense of right and wrong but there was no like, driving force behind me, like, ‘Hey, you should stop.’ What I wanted, getting the drugs was more important.”

Laurie struggled with worry and fear. “It was horrifying. Every time I'd see a police car or an ambulance, I would be sure that somebody had shot Nick. And so, it was really hard to live like that. I was asking the Lord to please change the situation, take hold of Nick and give me my Nick back.”

After high school, Nick continued to rack up felony charges. Then, in 2006, when he was twenty-six, he was ordered to a military-style bootcamp. The discipline and structure helped Nick get his life on track. So, when he got out, he went to enlist. But with so many convictions, Nick was rejected. “I was like, man, I'm such a dirtbag, I can't even go and die for my country. I was like, well, people occupy hell and I guess I'm gonna be one of those people.”

Nick went right back to his old lifestyle. “There was not a day that I didn't do like four or five different burglaries or motor vehicle thefts. I was like, 'Man, you just need to change, you know?' And I'd have these like conversations and dialogues, and then I'd start to come down from the drugs and I'm like, ‘Man, I need the drugs.’ You know? And so, it was a constant battle, like I would feel, just torn."

His mom continued to pray. Laurie recalled her pleading, “Whatever it takes, Lord, I need you to do whatever it takes to get him back to you.”

Then, in August of 2008, Nick was arrested for the last time. By then he’d racked up nearly two hundred counts of burglary and larceny charges. Yet one crime stood out in his mind—he’d stolen a purse from a woman that reminded him of his grandmother. “They actually called her as a witness in my trial, and I'm sitting there looking at her and I just wanna apologize. That's kind of like this like epiphany moment in my life. It broke me. That's not who I am. That's not who I want to be. And so made a commitment to myself, I was like, this ends today. I'm never gonna be the dude that steals grandma's purse.”

Locked up with no access to drugs, Nick turned to food for comfort. His weight ballooned to four hundred pounds. “Here I am, I'm looking at the rest of my life in prison. I'm broken, at the very rock bottom, and there's no other way out. And then I just feel like there's God, and then He's telling me, ‘There is a way, and you are gonna be fine.’ You know? And I'm like, 'Let's go. If anybody needs a road to redemption, it's me.”’

By the time he received his sentence of sixty years, Nick was clean and had lost over 100 pounds through CrossFit training. He’d also rededicated his life to God. “I just started trusting Him. I knew that the Lord was protecting me. I knew that He was with me. I just started reading and then praying and just thinking to myself, you can do this, and the only way you're gonna do it is with God's help, every decision I make in my life.”

Nick became a certified CrossFit instructor and helped start a nonprofit for fellow inmates called Redemption Road Fitness Foundation. In partnership with CrossFit, they became the first CrossFit affiliate inside a prison. One hundred percent of inmates participating in the program have been reformed. “My goal is to stop that recidivism, to stop that never ending cycle of going back to prison. Through mentorship, accountability, and community, we can do just that.”

Through the program, Nick met a lawyer who pursued clemency for him and on May 10th, 2022 he was released after serving fourteen years. Nick recalled that special day, “I was just overwhelmed with joy, you know, thankfulness, gratitude, joy.”

Laurie was overjoyed as well. “It was just a celebration. It was wonderful!”

Since that time, Redemption Road has expanded to thirteen of the eighteen prisons in Colorado. When he’s not busy working and managing over a hundred volunteers, Nick enjoys spending time with his mom and mentoring others. Nick stated, “It's never too late. You're never too far gone, and you're never not wanted by God. It's never too late to make the right decisions. He's there, all you gotta do is ask.”

For information about Redemption Road and Nick Wells, please see below:

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About The Author

Amy Reid

Amy Reid has been a Features Producer with the Christian Broadcasting Network since 2003 and has a Master’s in Journalism from Regent University. When she’s not working on a story she’s passionate about, she loves to cook, garden, read and travel.