The state intervened. At age 9, Davien, two brothers and the baby were sent to live nearby with his aunt and uncle, Joni and Terry Alford, and their two children. Davien thought they acted more like big kids than parents.
The best way to become a man is to look at those around me, and do the opposite.
On Jan. 30, 2007, as Davien and his uncle walked in the neighborhood, they spotted a group of Latino men approaching, heads shaved gangbanger-style, arms covered in tattoos.
Suddenly, everyone was shouting in English and Spanish. Someone fired a gun.
His uncle stumbled off, shot in the calf.
Davien ran, hiding under a low brick garden wall. He could hear the strangers searching for him, their breath close. He wondered where his uncle had gone.
After they left, he bolted home, arriving to see paramedics lift his uncle into an ambulance. Sheriff's deputies followed.
His uncle answered some of their questions. But he never identified the shooter. He wasn't a snitch.
Deputies questioned Davien too. He knew he was supposed to tell the truth, as a Christian. But helping deputies would put his family at risk.
He didn't describe the suspects. No one was arrested.
Davien soon began having the nightmares about getting shot on the silver BMX his uncle had given him.
As Davien lay bleeding on the grass, he played dead.
Through droopy eyelids, he watched cars brake for a stop sign across the street, then zoom off. He recognized one driver, a neighbor who looked away.
She must think I'm a gangster.
A red Ford Explorer slowed, windows rolled down. Davien took a chance.
"Ma'am, I need help, I've been shot!" he yelled.
The car stopped and a white lady with long red hair and glasses jumped out. She grabbed Davien's hand and called 911.
It was 4:57 p.m.
"There is a young African American gentleman who has been shot," the woman told dispatch. "There's a lot of children out here as well, if you can kind of hurry."