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Rob Vassilarakis Goes From Living On Streets To Running Them In New York City Marathon

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Rob Vassilarakis of the Bronx (credit: Marla Diamond/WCBS 880)

Rob Vassilarakis of the Bronx (credit: Marla Diamond/WCBS 880)

diamond_feature Marla Diamond
I began my career at WCBS in the fall of 1997 as the station's New...
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NEW YORK (WCBS 880) - A nosy mom who couldn’t accept her son changed his life forever.

WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond On The Story

When Rob Vassilarakis of the Bronx was 17-years-old, his mother read a journal entry of his and learned that he was gay.

She couldn’t deal with that and gave him an ultimatum – change or leave.

He left.

“The fall of ’06, I was a IV crystal meth user, homeless on the street,” he told WCBS 880 reporter Marla Diamond.

A friend got him into treatment.

“Everything was a trigger. Every street, every neighborhood. Literally, I had to reclaim my life. I had to reclaim New York, you know, my home, my city,” he said.

He also was HIV positive.

“My eyes reflected death. I looked awful,” he said.

After watching a friend run the marathon, he caught the running bug.

“I was all-consumed by it,” he said. “I guess being an addict and responding to things that, you know, alter your mood, I was like ‘I love this! What is this!'”

This Sunday, he’ll be running in his second New York City Marathon – his way of reclaiming those streets and inspiring others who may be down and out.

“Don’t quit before that miracle happens because there is freedom on the other end,” he said.

He’ll also be running in the Bronx Foot Locker Five Borough Challenge – a sort of race within a race for bragging rights.

Have you been inspired by a marathon runner? Share the story below!

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