CBS News/Blueprint for Life website – Mary Johnson, a 59-year-old teacher’s aide was justifiably distraught when her only son, 20-year-old Laramiun Byrd, was shot to death at a party in 1993. The killer was 16-year-old O’Shay Israel.
“I wanted Justice,” Johnson said. “He was an animal. He deserved to be caged.”
And he was. Israel was sentenced to 25 1/2 years in prison. He served 17 years before being released earlier this year. In a strange twist of fate that demonstrates the power of forgiveness, Israel now lives next door to Johnson in a North Minneapolis apartment building–an arrangement set up by Johnson’s appeal to her landlord.
“Unforgiveness is like cancer. It will eat you from the inside out,” says Johnson. “Me forgiving him does not diminish what he has done. Yes, he murdered my son. But the forgiveness is for me. It’s for me.”
Johnson met with Israel several times before he was released from Minnesota’s Stillwater State Prison and eventually forgave him. Now??Israel and Johnson together sing the praises of forgiveness at prisons, churches and before large audiences throughout the Midwest.
Watch the CBS News video: The Power of Forgiveness