From Ghetto to the Games... the Devon Harris Story

Malmstrom Air Force Base, Great Falls, MT-  When Devon Harris was a young boy he would walk out onto the streets of Kingston Jamaica and gaze at the millionaire mansions a few miles away.  Devon and his family were dirt poor; dirt like the floors in his families house. 

As the years went by his mother grew accustomed to Devon’s daydreaming. Much of it done starring at the mansions and all that they represented to the young man.  Devon dreamed of a day when he too could live in a huge home,  own an automobile and store it in a garage.  He dreamt of living in a home that would end his four other siblings having to share a small bedroom and single bed.

Devon Harris dreamed of Mansions...

“Everyone told me I was never going to get out of the ghetto, that there was no way I could become a Jamaican Army Officer, let alone attend Sandhurt in England” reflected Devon Harris, “Add making 3 Olympic Teams... as a Bobsledder for the tropical island to the list. Over the years I learned to keep my dreams away from negative people in my life... they would just tell me I couldn’t do it.”  

The nay sayers out numbered the ‘you can do it’ crowd.  Devon’s: ‘Yes You Can Team’ didn’t exist.  

Despite all the negatives; Devon Harris kept dreaming.

“Just getting out of the Ghetto was an accomplishment worth celebrating and taking lifetime stock in” says Devon “But I couldn’t stop there.  I had a fire burning within to do the unthinkable.”   Devon Harris’ life story is one of doing the unthinkable.  From the ghetto of Kingston, he went onto be commissioned in the Jamaican Army Defense Forces by completing the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst Officers course in Surrey, England.   A few years later he was a founding member of the first Jamaican Olympic Bobsled Team.  Today he has become an American citizen and works with two international charities to improve the quality of life for young boys and girls around the world.

“If you want me to get something done, tell me I can't do it” says Devon “I was trained at a young age that my dreams were bigger then many of the people around me.”

For the Airmen of the 341st Missile Wing at Malmstrom Air Force Base, while many may have missed watching Devon and his teammates compete in Calgary, Canada back in 1988...  most have watched the Disney film depicting the team; ‘Cool Runnings’. 

“The film is way off... not even close to the truth, but it did make our effort famous... for that the Jamaican Olympic Committee owes Disney.” says Harris “If you get in the habit of not quitting, eventually you will get to the point where you don’t know how to quit.” 

Air Force Global Strike Command and American300 are presenting Devon Harris to the Airmen of the MAJCOM as part of the ‘Never Quit Series’. A MAJCOM initiative to share individuals ranging from Wounded Warriors to Olympic Athletes and others who all posses incredible mental toughness... a Never Quit life story. 

PHOTOS from Malmstrom AFB can be viewed at: ‘American300 Tours‘ on facebook. 

For more information on Air Force Global Strike Command:

American300 is a 501c3 all volunteer nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing the mental strength and resiliency of our Military and Civilian Service Members, Their Families and communities in the Areas of Operation our Service Members live and serve in around the world.   No federal endorsement of sponsors or nonprofit is ever intended.   

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