Story by Laurean Love
Photos by Matt Hellman
From living amid his mother’s in-house prostitution ring to witnessing his father murdered in front of him, Jameson White has already encountered more in his young life than most people do in a lifetime.
With his past and Waco High School’s low graduation rate, it is hard to believe that he is where he is today: at the top of his class, graduating in May and having earned acceptance to an acclaimed Texas university.
Jameson grew up in San Antonio with his mother and had been put in special needs classes. His mother had been self-employed at a massage salon, which he later found out was a cover for in-home prostitution. His mother would verbally abuse Jameson and his two brothers and sister.
“Whenever my mom was there, she would say I was worthless,” said Jameson, “and that’s why I could not do anything on my own because it was always, ‘I can’t do this, I don’t know how’. I didn’t have any motivation in me at all.”
There were constantly guests living with Jameson at his mother’s house, anywhere from four to six people a room.
When Jameson was just 12 years old, his mother abandoned him. She had been gone two weeks before he called his grandmother. When his grandmother came for him, Jameson found out that his father had been released from prison several months ago, but his mother had forbidden him from seeing Jameson. His father had been incarcerated for drug- related charges.
Jameson’s father, Charles White, withdrew him from school in San Antonio and brought him to Waco, putting him in regular and advanced classes. Jameson said his father believed in him and wanted to teach him right from wrong. Although his dad was still involved in some illegal activity, he always made sure that Jameson kept up in school and remained involved in extracurricular activities, including band, football and any advanced classes that were available.
“I was completely reliant and dependent on people before I got to my dad,” Jameson said. “When I got to my dad, he straightened everything out for me to be self-reliant, but I never got completely off of that because of him. But when he died that forced me to become self-reliant and forced me to utilize the tools that he gave me.”
Jameson’s father would go and talk to his teachers to make sure he was not falling behind. His father even taught him how to play guitar. Jameson still uses this gift as the bass guitarist in a local band, War Within.
On June 2, 2008, Jameson’s father was murdered. Two men came to his home, cut the power switch to draw him out and unloaded an entire AR-15 magazine on his father. Everything Jameson knew was stripped from him in one instant. He remembers the gunshots, all the blood and his father’s last breath.
According to Jameson, his father sent him inside to get a flashlight, even though they knew exactly where the breaker box was. Jameson said his dad must have known someone had tricked them to come outside and was going to try to hurt them.
Jameson said he thinks his father, who was a former Marine, must have fought the guy for a while because his father shot the man he struggled with in the foot. It was another man from several yards away that shot and killed his father.
“It’s more of an honor story. That’s why I have more pride in it because he defended us, and I had someone die for me so I can go to college, “ Jameson said, “He gave me the tools I needed to go, but it wasn’t until he died that I had the inner will to be able to do it on my own.”
Jameson was a witness at his father’s murder trial. He had to sit while the medical examiners told the jury exactly how it must have happened. Even though a full magazine had been emptied, his father had only been shot twice — once in his leg and once in his heart.
“When you get hit in the face with the truth, you have to deal with it. You can’t put it to the side,” he said. “My dad was gone. No one else is going to be there.”
Even as a sophomore in high school, Jameson knew then that he would have to cope with the fact that both of his parents were gone, and they were not coming back.
The hardships in Jameson’s life did not end with his father’s death.
Since his mother was not in his life any longer, his stepmother, Lupe, took custody of Jameson. Jameson collected Social Security checks and his stepmother set up an account for the money to be placed in.
The account was supposed to start his college fund. However, Jameson soon learned that his stepmother had been stealing his money and had only been putting a small part in the account. When Jameson confronted her about this, she withdrew the rest of the money from his account and left.
At this point, Jameson had no one else to turn to but himself.
“I have no emotional bonds with anybody,” said Jameson. “I could care less. I was forced to let go of the one person I ever loved. Forced, as in ripped from my arms kind of thing. Ever since then I worry more about myself than anybody else in this world.”
He is living with a friend now, but he pays his own rent, utilities, groceries and all the other essential items.
Jameson does not have a car, so he must walk everywhere or rely on someone else to give him a ride.
After his father’s death and his stepmother’s disappearance, a teacher whom he been close with and whom his father spoke with on several occasions became an advocate for Jameson. Denise Bell stepped in as a sort of mother figure. Bell even offered to adopt him after his father was murdered.
“I just have been there to clear the path,” Bell said, “the way a parent would within the school system when he is coming up against a barrier, to just be that sounding board, but also be that advocate for him.”
Jameson was recently accepted to Texas A&M University. Excited about his acceptance, he began to tell everyone he knew, only to realize that he could not share the moment with his father.
Billy Tate is one of Jameson’s longtime friends, as well as a member of the same band, War Within, and Jameson’s employer at Texas Chain saw Nightmare Haunted House.
“Jameson has worked for me for several years, so I have heard his story before, and to see him fight as hard as he has and end up where he is still strikes a chord,” Tate said.
Meeting Jameson, few people would guess his past hardships. He comes across as a happy, normal and well-educated young man. Jameson does not like to share his past with others in fear that they would pity him.
Even though Jameson’s father is not around today, Jameson said he is inspired by his father’s goals and pursues his dreams in dedication to his father’s life.