Michelle's Story: "They Call Him Uncle Awesome" - FAMM

Michelle’s Story: “They Call Him Uncle Awesome”

My name is Michelle. I am the proud mother of Danny Knight. At the age of 17, he was sentenced to 40 years in the Florida prison system. That was 2008, and now he has 28 years left behind bars. I will never forget the moment I heard that Danny, not even 18 years old, would be imprisoned in the adult system. I was devastated that he was going to be thrown in with murderers and rapists, and even child molesters. I prayed that he would never fall to being one of their victims. He was only just out of childhood himself.


From the time of his arrest until today my life as well as my family’s life has never been the same. Every day is filled with fear, anxiety, and a loss.

My son turned 29 this Jan 13. I have had to watch him grow into a man from across a prison table and over the phone.

He now has nephews and is a proud uncle. They have only met Uncle Danny from across the prison table. They talk to him often, with him giving them guidance on how to stay out of trouble and to be careful of who they may hang around. He always encourages them to do well in school and to do the very best in everything they set out to do. They call him “Uncle Awesome.” Danny tells me it breaks his heart not to watch them grow up like a normal family member. To go to their football, and soccer games. School functions like the award for Honor Society his nephew was so proud of. He not wait until Uncle Danny found out about it.

At the age of 57, when Danny is set to be released, his future will be dim. As a mom knowing that my son did not get to graduate with his class, no prom, no driver’s license, never had a job to learn a skill or trade, checking account — hell, to never even get married – never to date or have children of his own, even figure out how to pay a bill breaks my heart. At the time of his release I will be well into my 80s and in reality may not live to see this.

There may be a ray of hope: Danny was granted a resentencing trial and it should be coming up very soon. Unfortunately, the original judge has dug her heels in and has put several stays on the resentencing. It is in our deepest wishes and prayers that my son can come home and get that second chance he so deserves.

Throwing children in adult systems is just wrong! People are not able to make decisions at that age, we cannot legally vote, smoke, drink, join the military. Yet we can throw them in the adult system and not provide them with counseling or programs to help them. We have a Broken Criminal Justice System, especially where our children are concerned.

Danny Rothwell in high school.

Issue: Sentencing