I first watched Danny Trejo in the 1995 movie Desperado. He played the mean knife-throwing cartel enforcer hunting El Mariachi (played by Antonio Banderas). It was a good role, he played it well, and it suited his image. A few years later, I thoroughly enjoyed the craziness of El Machette. I knew he had acted in low-budget B-movies, but I was unaware that he also had roles in Reindeer Games, Blood In Blood Out, Anaconda, and Spy Kids. When I came across this audiobook that he narrated, I was intrigued to learn more.

The Narration

First off, the narration. It is truly authentic, and I love it. Trejo has trouble reading, and unlike other well-polished and professionally narrated audiobooks, this felt like an honest narration of his life story - the good and the bad. It lays his humanity bare.

The Past

I had no idea that Trejo had such a violent past. He had transitioned from juvenile to adult crimes, spending most of his teenage and early adult life in prison. 

We graduated to the Harvard of Penitentiaries - on getting transferred to San Quentin.

His "Damascus Road Experience" came while facing the death penalty. He promised God to turn his life around if he was released. And that was just what happened.

I was going to die, and it was going to be the gas chamber


Here are some of my takeaways and parts of the book that stood out to me -

Mowing Lawns & Karma

Trejo and his friend Dany went into the lawn-moving business with a single borrowed lawnmower. They often did some pro bono yard work for a widow who had fallen on tough times and never left the house. Because of this work, one day, another person in the same neighborhood let them borrow a whole set of brand new lawn mowing tools in return for mowing his lawn.

The moment of this lawn mowing story that stood out to me was that of them being served lemonade out of crystal glasses as payment for their service -

...drink whisky out of a crystal glass. the most important part of that fantasy was the sound of ice makes against crystal. it was one of my strongest and most vivid memories
That lemonade tasted thousand times better than any whisky after pulling a stupid crime would have, all because we helped a woman whose suffered unimaginable loss. God know's how to work things the right way - even fantasies. God had an awesome sense of humor

Making a Sale

His AA sponsor got him a job selling car tools. His clean-cut salesman outfit did not make him a single sale. Therefore he improvised by dressing down and selling the tools out of his trunk from the back alley of the car workshops.

"I got these tools homes, they look good real good,"

"how much ??"

He was pretty successful.

"i sold them like if they were stolen,

Damn we will have to make receipts for all these sales"


Trejo attended AA meetings while in prison and continued doing so after he left. He dedicated the rest of his life to helping and expanding recovery centers in the LA area. This continued even after his acting career took off and at film locations across America. This is evident from all the stories in this book on how he helped various people as a counselor and attended their court hearings.

Emotional Anguish

In the book, he speaks about how he could not keep his kids off drugs despite all his accomplishments as a recovery counselor. This caused him tremendous emotional anguish.

Trejo recalls speaking to his son Gilbert who was living on the streets then - only moments after meeting and talking with President Barack Obama.


Eddie Bunker said it best - "The whole world can think you are a movie star - but you can't "

Trejo described an incident when he put his ego in check. 

A co-actor, Erik Estrada, was moved up to First Class while Trejo was relegated to Coach. While fuming, he eavesdrops on the couple in front of him. The wife thanks her (possibly blue-collar) husband for keeping his decades-old promise of taking her to Hawaii. This conversation puts his ego in check as he realizes his blessings. 

Similar to these, many more moments in the book reinforce his humility.

Faith in God

life isn't worth living if you don't have some problems.

And finally, my main and most important takeaway from this book is that of a person who has placed his complete trust in God. 

Trejo had the utmost faith that, despite challenging times, he would always be taken care of and provided for. This faith helped him overcome much -

  • incarceration
  • liver cancer
  • stroke
  • addiction
  • kid's addictions
  • breakthrough in acting

He was always blessed with enough resources to help others as much as himself.