Former Inmate with Drive to Succeed Launches His Own Optical Business After 20 Years Behind Bars

A poor decision cost a Detroit man two decades of his life, but he refused to let his time in prison stop him from achieving his dreams.

“I was involved in a robbery,” Roby Davis told Fox 2 Detroit. “I have to say I knew better [and] wound up going to prison. Normally, I don’t take from people and act like a menace to society. It really bothered me.”

Davis, 49, was sentenced to 75 years behind bars but was released in 2011 after serving nearly 20 years. He didn’t spend his time on the inside wasting away but applied himself by taking every class the prison had to offer.

After meeting a certain criteria, Davis enrolled in the optician program at the Gus Harrison Correctional Facility in Adrian, Mich., where he and other inmates learned highly technical skills and trained in the optical lab, according to the station. It was there that they learned to make eyeglasses for every prisoner in the state.

Roby Davis

Roby Davis would become a nationally certified optician after his release from prison in 2011. (Fox 2 Detroit / video screenshot)

“He was a go-getter, he wanted it — you could just tell,” Matt Yeager, an instructor at the prison, said of Davis. “He told me from the beginning when he got out he wanted to start his own business, start a nonprofit to help kids get glasses. He said I’m going to look you up – I said I will be waiting.”

The former inmate made good on his promise and launched his own business, Rosedale Vision, in Detroit. He would also go on to become a nationally certified optician.

“I am excited to come to work every day,” Davis told Fox 2 Detroit. “New clients get a new smile – our motto here is ‘Rosedale Vision seeing better.’ We like to say that to everybody get their glasses.”

Many inmates have entered the field of optometry after their release from prison, but Davis is the first to open his open own business using the skills he learned through training at the Michigan Department of Corrections Optical Lab. Business is going so well that he has since brought on his 28-year-old son to help him.

” … I can’t even really say in words how proud I am – where he went, where he has been,” Roby Davis Jr. said of his father. “He was gone 20 years. To me, I want to be successful too. I want to do the right thing. It is really important to me. I look up to my dad.”

See more of Davis’ story in the clip below.

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