Our First Silent Hero
CJ's Older Brother, & Joy Staley’s son.
Born and raised all over Michigan, James was a child who believed that if you want to be interesting, you have to be interested. He developed a strong knack for playing video games and watching sci-fi fantasy movies. From this interest, James found his career. While in high school, James began connecting to others to play video games head to head. With the technology at the time, it was a complicated process that involved clunky drivers, modem init strings, and baud rates. As he taught himself about these things, James realized that he had an aptitude for computer technology so he took a class at a vocational school. Following graduation from this class, he became the youngest person in the state of Michigan to pass his Novell certification and at the age of 17, he began working for an internet service provider as a LAN administrator.
James has also always had a passion and interest in motorcycles. James has logged over 30,000 miles on his bikes showing CJ the USA.
During CJ’s earlier years, James lived about an hour away from his brother so he did not get to see him very often. When James and CJ were together, James always assumed the mantle of “big brother” and loved getting CJ riled up. They would play video games together for hours at a time. CJ would always get so angry when James would beat him but was always anxious to try again. James clearly remembers the first time that CJ beat him. “It was like Christmas,” James says of his brother’s excitement. Besides playing video games, James would often take CJ and his mother, Joy, to fun things that they couldn’t afford like amusement parks, renaissance fairs, and Go-Kart parks.
When Joy got sick in the winter of 2006, James begged her to allow CJ to stay with him until she got better. The next few months James spent his time caring for CJ and preparing for the worst while hoping for the best. James’ wife and he hadn’t been together long and parenting a child with Asperger’s Autism can be challenging. When Joy passed in February, James had to deliver the worst news imaginable to CJ. “I can honestly say that was one of the darkest moments in my life.”
Following Joy’s passing, James and his wife engaged in a lengthy custody battle with CJ’s biological father. James was simultaneously battling the public school system to allow CJ back in. CJ’s previous schools had given up on him and pawned him off to “alternative schools”. Eventually, James won both battles but they had robbed him of his mourning.
Since the battles that ensued, James has struggled with parenting his little brother but has made great strides. While taking on this role has cost James his marriage, he still feels blessed to have CJ in his life. “I honestly believe he will do great things some day.”