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How a cup of coffee from a gym owner changed a homeless man's life

Oct 12, 2023

By Steve Hartman

June 9, 2023 / 8:15 PM / CBS News

At the God Body gym in Memphis, Tennessee, owner Roderick Duncan says real change never happens overnight — but it always starts in an instant.

In one case, it was an instant cup of coffee that made all the difference.

A few months ago, Duncan said he noticed someone behind his gym, sleeping in one of his old cars.

"Homeless guy, had to have been," Duncan said.

Duncan approached the car, with his cell phone camera recording, and told him to get out of the vehicle. The car doors don't lock, though, so the next day, Duncan had the same problem. It repeated the next day, and the next day, and the next day — until Duncan tried a different approach.

"Before I could knock on the window, I said, 'You know what?' I came back in here and made him a cup of coffee," Duncan said.

Over that cup of coffee, Duncan began to build a relationship with 24-year-old Bryan Taylor. He learned about Taylor's troubled childhood and drinking problem. Their relationship grew, and soon, Duncan was taking Taylor to get a new ID and driving him to job interviews, while Taylor crashed on his couch.

It hasn't always been smooth sailing for the duo. Whether it's been violating trust or not following the rules Duncan set, Duncan said there have been many times where he's told the 24-year-old that it's "the last straw" — but every time, he gives Taylor another chance.

"Some people need more than one chance. It takes a while for most kids to stop bumping their head," Duncan said.

Taylor said no matter what, he couldn't be more grateful. Both men agree that thanks to Duncan's intervention, tomorrow is looking brighter.

"I'm a changed person," Taylor said. "I got a job. I got more confidence. I got a smile on my face."

Steve Hartman has been a CBS News correspondent since 1998, having served as a part-time correspondent for the previous two years.

First published on June 9, 2023 / 8:15 PM

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