Gunner is a dynamic, engaging speaker with a remarkable past and an even more remarkable future. Born to a mentally-ill mother and alcoholic father, he was raised mostly by his grandparents who had deep ties to the Mafia. Gunner essentially raised himself and took to the streets, where as a teen he became immersed in fighting, selling drugs, organized crime, and various hustles for his mob-connected family. He was expelled indefinitely from school at age 14 and never went back. By age 16, he racked up 7 felonies, including possession of pipe bombs, after a mobster paid him to blow up a rival nightclub. At age 17, he was busted on a large organized crime steroid ring. His grandfather bribed a judge to keep him out of prison. After serving six months in jail, a mobster, Tony Giacolone, famous for being the #1 suspect in the Jimmy Hoffa disappearance, took an interest in Gunner, putting him to work as a bouncer at poker games and underground casino nights. But Tony's assignments quickly grew more and more nefarious, more violent. Gunner became known for his aggression, violence, and fearlessness. As his foray into a life of crime grew deeper and darker, he found himself battling an on-again off-again drug addiction. And he was constantly at odds with the law. Eventually, at age 29, he was indicted for extortion, bank robbery, armed robbery, and 14 other capital offenses that carried up to life in prison. He was sentenced to 13-50 years.
Once locked up, Gunner decided he had enough. All his life, had been living a lie. He had always acted crazy and violent to earn the respect and acceptance of the people around him. But the real Gunner was not a bad guy. He was a good guy, an intellectual who liked to read, fish, hunt, and write, as he was an artist with words. He had spent his entire life as a fraud, pretending to be someone even he didn't like. So he committed himself to God and change, and never looked back. Nobody knew he had a gift. a very rare and special gift. Writing. So write he did. And he did not stop writing for the next 13 years, penning 9 remarkable novels.
About half-way through his prison sentence, Gunner's cousin started a Facebook page for him, and listed on the profile that said he was a new Christian and in prison writing novels. This caught the attention of a woman from his old neighborhood who worked in publishing and was a new Christian herself. She wrote him a letter and asked to read one of his manuscripts. They began writing back-and-forth, and discovered they had a lot in common. Both loved the outdoors, camping, books, animals, history, food, God, and obscure trivia. Both shared the same dream of someday living on a wilderness homestead. Over the course of several months, the two of them fell madly in love. She would wait faithfully for almost 7 years, and prepare a life for him to come home to. When Gunner was paroled in late July 2016, they were married at the local county courthouse and baptized together in Lake Huron. Before he was submerged in the water, he was asked why he wanted to be baptized. His response: "Because when I come up from that water, the old me is dead and I will be one-hundred percent the new me." And so he was.
Together, Maria and Gunner started an amazing new life. Everything was so new and foreign to Gunner. He had never experienced a normal life. He had never even paid taxes before. "Normal" felt so amazing. When he published his first 2 novels, To Be A King Volumes 1 & 2, they shot to the top 100 of the genre and people around the world began calling the series "the next Godfather." Shortly after, he launched his own clothing line, "OUR THING" Apparel. Today, along with being a full time novelist and entrepreneur, Gunner is a sought after inspirational, motivational, personal development speaker. He also hosts "OUR THING" DETROIT, a syndicated Detroit show on 910 Superstation, on one of the oldest (90 years) and largest talk radio stations in America. The theme of his show is inspiration, creativity, and the art of storytelling, featuring guest authors every week. Currently, he's working on a network TV series with several Hollywood heavyweight actors and producers, including Armand Assante. Gunner continues to inspire readers, fans, and followers around the world to never give up on dreams, to always believe in themselves, and never look back.
"Failures are just life lessons that just teach us how to be better. It is up to us to learn from them, and grab ahold of our destiny. If I can find the love of my life and write nine novels in prison, ,and live the life I live today, anyone can do anything. I am not that special. I just believed in myself and never gave up. If I can, anyone can." - Gunner
What makes Gunner so unique as a speaker is that he is highly interactive with his audience. He encourages them to ask questions about his former life as a gangster, his time in prison, or how he got to where he is today. Some of his side stories are absolutely shocking and leave audiences wondering how he even survived. From being shot, to dangerous confrontations with powerful mob bosses, to surviving prison, he is an open book who loves to entertain and inspire audiences with action-packed anecdotes from his former life.
Gunner loves speaking and believes it is part of his calling. So if you have an event where you want to entertain your employees, clients, guests, students, or inmates with an inspirational, motivational, and engaging speaker, Gunner will have them on the edge of their seat from start to finish. He especially enjoys speaking to those in recovery or suffering mental health setbacks. He also loves to share his journey in faith, how God was the one who changed his heart. He has a particular affinity towards troubled youths and at-risk teens, as he was once one of them and believes he can make a difference in their lives. He loves speaking to corporate audiences about how he, in prison, convinced himself that he could change, tap into his natural talents, and use strategic long term planning to get to where he is today. Gunner has been a guest speaker at events from Entrepreneur's Organization and The Millionaire's Club, to prison advocacy groups addressing recidivism.
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Motivational, Inspirational Speaking Engagements
Samples of Public Appearances
Personal bio video
Entrepreneur's Org. Lecture (1st half)
KC Armstrong's "World's Most Amazing People" NYC radio interview (audio only)
Vera Group prison talk
Entrepreneur's Org. Lecture (2nd half)