Fighting Your Family's Demons
By Annika Young
The 700 Club
Like most fighters in the mixed martial arts world, Jason had a nickname. His was Charlie Manson III, a name he inherited from his dad. He was Charles Manson Jr. and I knew that Charlie Manson, Sr. was my grandfather. It was to be kept quiet, under a rug.
His parents never married. Jason lived with his mother and stepfather who raised him. His biological father kept his distance. As the son of a notorious killer, he was fighting his own battles with depression and a drug addiction. "Earliest memories were mainly phone conversations and pictures that he sent and Christmas gifts. I don't know if he just realized that I was fine; I was taken care of, that he didn't think he needed to be there."
One night Jason's father checked out on him for good. He killed himself when Jason was a freshman in high school. Despite their splintered relationship, Jason took his father's death very hard. "I blamed my father's suicide on my grandfather. Jason poured those emotions into high school football and wrestling. "I knew that my anger needed to be directed in a positive manner."
Still, Jason's ties to the Manson family name haunted him, and he swore to break the cycle of drugs and violence. But his hair-trigger temper was working against him. "People knew I could fight. I would fight. I didn't have a problem with fighting. When I was provoked, I knew I could hurt somebody and I didn't want to hurt nobody."
As an adult, he found another way to vent his anger... through mixed martial arts. But to make money, he started selling drugs, and soon started using them, too. Jason felt the consequences of his actions. "When you're on drugs that make your family not want to be around you or not like you, you don't fit in. You get mixed up into whatever kind of drug it is to hide yourself from reality. You're in a box. You don't know how to get out."
Eventually, Jason was arrested and convicted for drug trafficking. His worst fear had come true. "I just - I don't want to fail. (I) seen it all around me, all my life."
He asked God to help. "Laid in bed probably for hours just crying and just asking for forgiveness and help; help to understand, give me some wisdom to realize the path I'm on isn't the right path."
He found a Bible, but wasn't sure where to begin. He met someone who helped. "There was an ordained minister in there for relapsing back on crack cocaine. I started asking questions and I said, 'I don't know where to start in this long Book, this Bible.' He said 'Well, just you know, read John. Everybody starts at John.' He prayed over me. I accepted Jesus in my heart. At that point I wanted to walk a different path."
He took the first step. "I went straight to the Bible and I ran every day. I stayed focused on myself. I stayed focused on understanding why I'm in here."
Jason served his time. He also met and married Audrey. He says on his journey of faith, she helped him every step of the way. "I didn't know for the longest time which way was up or down and I can honestly say when I met my wife, Audrey, it's been a rough road, but she made me who I am today."
In 2011, he decided to step out of the ring for good. Jason remembers his conversation with God on the night of his last fight. "I was asking Him, 'Why am I out here?' He said, 'I built a stage up underneath of you to speak off of and reach others.'"
Now he talks to kids about how to avoid the mistakes he made. He says with God's help he's been off the drugs and his anger is in check. He and Audrey are raising three boys and working on leaving a legacy founded on faith in God. "I got my whole family. I love it."
The kid with the notorious family ties has found his purpose through his faith in Jesus Christ. "Once people get to know me for me and not the name, I carry my own weight. I feel God moves through me like He moves through a lot of people. And if that name somehow attracts attention over to my corner, then I've got something positive to speak about."