ORLANDO – The notion of dreams coming true can sound old fashioned, even corny, to some people. But Lucas Daniel Boyce has a dramatic story to tell — one that not only demonstrates that dreams can be achieved, but that people can rise up from very difficult beginnings to achieve great success.
And it helps, he’s quick to add, to have a really great, supportive mom on your side.
“My mom taught me you can be whoever you want to be, and you can accomplish whatever you want to accomplish, and you can do big things,” said Boyce.
Boyce is the author of “Living Proof,” a book that recounts how he was born to a teenage drug addict and prostitute, but was taken in by a loving foster mom who later adopted him, and how he went on to become the director of community relations for the Orlando Magic.
“It’s a special job that I don’t take for granted at all,” he said.
His climb up the ladder of success, he said, could not have been accomplished without the love and support of his mother, Dorothy Boyce, who took in 40 foster children and adopted six.
“Without her guidance and without her love, I could never be the person I am today,” he said.
On Saturday, Boyce spoke at the Orlando Public Library about his service in the White House, rides on Air Force One, and the day he introduced his mom to President George W. Bush. Showing a photo of himself and Dorothy Boyce posing with the president, he told the audience that “This is my best day in 31 years of life, the day I got to introduce this wonderful woman – who took in 40 foster children and adopted six of us – to the president of the United States.”
Kris Woodson, the programs and promotional development manager for the Orlando Public Library, said the library invited Boyce to speak there as part of its “March-Author in the City Beautiful” program.
“Lucas travels around the county giving speeches designed to motivate young adults to help make a difference in their community,” Woodson said.
Boyce said in some ways he was surprised that he’d become a published author, because it’s not a goal he had thought about much when he was young.
“I never thought I’d write a book,” he said. “I literally just took a year and I wrote this book.”
The biggest challenge, he added, was coming up with a title for it. “Living Proof,” he added, seemed to sum up his life story, and his view that any dream is possible through hard work and determination.
“I was talking to my mom said, ‘Mom, I don’t have a title for this book,’ and I was praying about it and thinking about it, and she came up with the title ‘Living Proof,’ ” he said. “This title isn’t really about me, it’s about everyone. Everyone is literally built for something more.”
He added, “I hope it will be an encouragement to you.”
Boyce said from the very start, he had a lot to overcome.
“I was born to a 19-year-old African American woman who used drugs and abused alcohol,” he said. “To feed the habit, she sold herself. We don’t know who my father was. I was born very, very premature. There was no one who could take care of me.”
That is, until Dorothy Boyce came into the picture.
“I was sent to the wonderful foster care system of this woman, Dorothy,” he said.
Her love and guidance helped Boyce overcome plenty of hardships, including developmental delays caused by the drugs in his system from his mother’s addiction, which caused him to repeat Kindergarten.
“Born to a call girl, sent to foster care, and struggling as a result of all that,” he said. “Well, President Barack Obama tells us we can do big things. I told my mom I wanted to do lots of big things, but I wanted to do three big things in particular.”
That included working at the White House, flying on Air Force One, and being employed by an NBA organization. The question was how to meet such lofty goals.
“Mom shared with me her two keys to success, and taught me a lot about perspective,” he said. “She said ‘I can’t promise you success.’ Her first key was that I could do anything I set my mind on. And the second was, at the end of the day, everyone needs a coach and a mentor. I was to always remember who I was and who I represent, and that we don’t lie, that we don’t cheat, that we don’t steal, that we don’t do what the cool crowd does.”
By age 22, Boyce was quickly on his way to achieving those dreams, when he became an intern at the White House. He still vividly recalls March 25, 2002, the day he was chosen to be part of a photo opportunity with President George W. Bush, who also agreed to pose for a separate photo with Boyce alone.
“He said ‘Let’s do a personal photo,’ “ Boyce recalled of the president. “It was a random chance encounter on the White House lawn.”
That led to a position on the White House staff, which eventually led to Boyce flying on Air Force One with the president.
“Every time the president traveled to the states, I was on that plane,” he said.
His experience working in the nation’s capitol helped convince the Orlando Magic to hire Boyce – his third dream coming true.
“Of course, we all run into obstacles in life,” he said, but added that people should remember his top two rules in life.
“Number one, never quit,” he said. “And Number two, never forget rule Number one.”
Contact us at FreelineOrlando@Gmail.com.