Meet the Team
Born and raised in Southern California, Dean lost his father at the age of one. As he was moving into the sixth grade, gang violence began to invade the area, motivating his mom to move Dean and his older brother to the Sacramento area. Struggling throughout middle and high school, Dean entered his young adult years believing that life is pain and pain is life until he had given up on all hope for a bright future. He got caught up in the things he thought would bring happiness back into his life: making money, attaining possessions, and gaining the acceptance of others.
Now, Dean Johnson is the founder of Victory 4 Youth and has been motivating people of all ages. Since 2004, Victory 4 Youth brings a message of hope and positive self-esteem to over 250,000 young people each year in high school and junior high school assemblies across the nation. He has had the privilege of motivating professional sports teams such as the Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees, and many others. Dean finds his greatest reward standing before students in public school assemblies. Dean knows firsthand what it is to be lost with no hope for a future and full of anger. He has turned those failures into victories.
Javier grew up in Los Angels, California where his example of what he was supposed to become came from his dad who was an LA gang member. By his teenage years, he moved to Northern California where he became gang affiliated, and his only desire was to kill anyone who reminded him of his father. At the age of 29, he put a gun to a man’s chest in a liquor store parking lot in a moment that would change his life forever. Since then, Javier stepped away from the street life and began traveling with Victory 4 Youth sharing with students the lessons of life he learned the hard way. Javier now, is not dead or in prison, but is a husband, a father, and is living a life that matters.
In his teenage years, Carlos Figueroa began hanging around the wrong people which would lead him into criminal activity and eventually organized crime. By the age of 17, Carlos was fully committed to this lifestyle and would find himself in a country overseas preparing to kidnap a Diplomat for the cartel.
With his pregnant girlfriend by his side in the hotel room the night of the kidnapping, Carlos sat down on the bed next to her and laid his hand on her belly. To his amazement he felt his baby move and in that moment Carlos came to his senses, realizing he was about to do something that could leave him dead or in federal prison for life. Carlos and his girlfriend got on the first flight home and soon after, he was sitting in an auditorium listening to a man share a message of hope that would change his life forever!
Carlos would serve our country in the US Marines. He married that girlfriend and, now, 17 years later the baby is a beautiful young lady preparing for the Naval Academy to become a Fighter Pilot. Carlos now travels the nation sharing that same message that changed his life and letting students know it’s never too late to turn a bad choice into a lesson learned and a bright future!
Darwin Benjamin was a high school All-American runningback from Southern California who was destined for the NFL. However, during his college years Darwin was introduced to drugs at a party an eventually became on of the biggest drug dealers in Stockton, California. Darwin quickly accumulated money, fame, power, and reputation, but he also acquired a drug addiction and became an alcoholic. Eventually, Darwin would watch his newborn baby die in his arms at 5 days old behind drugs and alcohol. This tragic event was the wake-up call Darwin needed to turn his life around. On November the 13th, 1988, Darwin made the decision to be free from substances and has spent the last 25 years speaking to students in public schools. On October 20th, 2004, Dean Johnson heard Darwin speaking, which was the catalyst to Dean finding his purpose of giving birth to Victory 4 Youth where now he and Darwin travel together continuing to bring that same message of victory to students across the country,