My parents — great people, hard workers, you know — didn’t really have enough time for a wild kind of kid. So I kind of was just left to run wild. I had an uncle that started teaching me how to box when I was about 8 years old, and basically I had to learn how to fight or get the hell kicked out of me. I learned how to fight pretty good. I thought that drugs were my answer — as long as I stay loaded I’m OK — but life would turn into chaos. I grew up in juvenile hall and started going to prison. I immediately started boxing in prison. I was fighting all my life. I became lightweight and welterweight champion of every institution I was in. The last time I got out of prison, I remember for the first time in five years, I saw a dog and I went, “Whoa, a dog!” And everybody like looked at me like I was crazy. It came up and I petted it, and it was like, wow, I’m really out! I’m really home. I had dedicated my life to helping other people, and I became a drug counselor. I started going to juvenile halls and prisons, and one of the kids I was working with who was about 18 years old, he called me up and he said, “Hey, there’s a lot of drugs down here at my job, Danny. I think I’m gonna use.” I went down to support him. I thought he worked at a warehouse, but he didn’t. He was production assistant on a film called “Runaway Train.” I walked onto that set, and there was all these people dressed as convicts. I thought it was the cutest thing I’d ever seen in my life. This other guy comes over and he says,
“You’re Danny Trejo!” I go, “Yeah!”
He’s, “I’m Eddie Bunker!” Eddie, we were in prison together. He said, “Are you still boxing? We need someone to train one of the actors how to box.” And I said, “What’s it pay?” And he said, “320 a day.” For 320 bucks, give him a stick! I’ve been beat up for free! I started training Eric Roberts how to box. The director saw that I could handle Eric. Andrey Konchalovskiy, I’ll never forget, he’s Russian, an aristocrat, very aristocratic. “You be in movie! You fight Eric in movie!” That’s how I got into the film business. I’ve been working ever since. Everything good that has happened to me has happened as a direct result of helping someone else. My passion is talking to young people
who want to stay out of trouble. My message is staying away from drugs and alcohol, and education is the key to anything you want to do. The blessing that I’ve gotten is when I walk onto a campus, I have their attention immediately. The guy from “Spy Kids,” the guy from
“Con Air,” the guy from “Heat,” every one of those kids wants to hear
what that guy’s got to say. Every morning I say a prayer: “Dear Heavenly Father, please let me sign every autograph, please let me take every picture, because what a blessing you’ve bestowed upon me just being able to make somebody’s day!” I love that responsibility, of being able to help people do right. I was an addict, an alcoholic, and I know that road. That road leads to death, institutions or insanity. I’ve been sober for 46 years, and I’ve had a great, great life.