Video posted on March 8, 2016 at 6:10 am CST

For Billy Johnson, alcohol and drug abuse forced him to live a life on the streets even though his family “wasn’t a street family.”

A self-described career hustler, he spent a total of 25 years behind bars on various drug, weapons, and robbery charges. Homeless and still using drugs after getting out of prison, he had to give up parental rights to his son. When his son’s mother died, he pledged to seek help and get clean. He has now been sober for five years while pursuing a career in the culinary arts with the help of D.C. Central Kitchen. He hopes to have his own food truck one day and reconnect with his son. In the meantime,  success is staying sober and being consistent, but it’s still a daily struggle.

“My life has been one crisis after another,” said Billy.

To him, the American dream means everyone has the same opportunities to achieve success, but it may be harder for some than others.