Craig James was 3 years old when his father, a crack addict, walked out. He smoked marijuana for the first time at age 10. By the time he was 16, he was fully addicted to cocaine. At 21, he turned to meth. In and out of jail until he was 27, Craig was spiraling out of control at such an alarming rate, one couldn’t help but wonder if he would make it to his 30th birthday. The rapper himself admits he shouldn’t even be here. Yet, thanks to a praying aunt, a faithful grandmother and the grace of God, Craig—now known as 5ive—lives to tell a different story.
Growing up in the tiny town of Earth, Texas, Craig moved to Lubbock shortly after high school graduation to attend college. He was enrolled just long enough to earn his grant check, then promptly dropped out and used it to buy drugs.
With his drug dependency at an all-time high, he found himself alone at his grandmother’s home, haunted by the voices of addiction. “When I would get on meth, I would begin to literally see things,” 5ive recalls, “and I would pick up the phone and call my Aunt Pat.”
His aunt, a pastor at a local church in Earth, had stage IV cancer at the time; however, her love and devotion for her nephew never ceased. “If I got bad, she would get out of bed and drive hours to where I was, just to sit with me, pray with me and tell me how much Jesus loved me,” he remembers. She also encouraged him to read the Bible. So even in his altered state, Craig would often read Scripture or watch sermons on TV in search of some peace.
In November 2010, unable to sleep for seven days straight and in search of his next fix, a stoned, drunk and exhausted Craig witnessed his little brother physically fighting another man over a piece of crack. “My heart just broke because I realized that I had done that to him,” 5ive reflects. “When I looked up, it was like everything was in slow motion, and I just heard God say, ‘Go to church.’ I tried to dismiss it, but I heard it again. So, I called my cousin, and I told her, ‘I don’t know what’s going on, but I need to get to Earth because I need to go to church.’”
His Aunt Pat happened to be preaching that Sunday. “As soon as I walked in, I didn’t go sit down in the pew; I didn’t wait to hear a message. God had already given me a message,” 5ive shares. “I went to that church that day expecting to meet with Jesus because I knew He was the only one that could do anything about my situation. I’d tried everything else.”
“I got to the front of the altar,” he continues, “and when my aunt looked at me, the smile on her face was as if God Himself was smiling at me. She said, ‘You’re tired, huh?’ And I said, ‘I’m so tired.’ Immediately when she laid her hands on me every weight of iniquity, every urge to want to do drugs, every urge to drink, every urge to do anything that wasn’t pleasing to God, I felt it all leave. And as plain as you hear me right now, I heard Jesus say, ‘Show the world My grace.”