Former President Barack Obama posted on Instagram that his wife of 28 years, former First Lady Michelle Obama, had surprised him with a drawing of the 12th hole at Augusta National by artist Valentino Dixon. He then stated that the story behind it is even better.
Drawing by Buffalo Artist Exonerated of Murder
According to Barack Obama, 59, "It's an incredible piece, but the story behind it is even better," indicating the Black artist from Buffalo, New York "was wrongfully convicted for a crime he didn't commit and sentenced to a minimum of 38 ½ years in prison" at the age of 21, reported People.
Dixon was freed from imprisonment in 2018.
The former U.S. president lauded him in a message to his 34 million Instagram followers.
In the past, Michelle has been known to dole out practical Christmas presents to her family, including workout gear and cash.
On the December 31 Instagram post, Barack wrote, "For more than two decades behind bars, he maintained his innocence. Eventually, he renewed his passion for art, thanks to the advice of his uncle, who told him, 'If you reclaim your talent, you can reclaim your life.' Despite never visiting a golf course, he went on to use photos from magazines to draw golf courses like the one in this photo. His art and his story gained national attention in 2012 through his family's tireless advocacy and a couple of profiles in golf publications."
He concluded, "Then, in 2018, three undergraduate students from Georgetown's Innocence Project uncovered evidence that proved the innocence Valentino had maintained all along. And after 27 years, he was free."
Dixon's narrative was recently featured on HBO's "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel," commemorating its 25th season. Michelle reportedly watched the segment and was moved to the point that she purchased a Dixon original of the iconic hole.
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Following his 2018 release, Dixon credited the numerous golf paintings he drew during his imprisonment for keeping him going.
In 1991, a brawl transpired outside of a restaurant in Buffalo, New York. Shots were fired, and one man was killed. An anonymous tip identified Dixon as the suspect. Although another person confessed to the gunning, Dixon was found guilty and sentenced to 38 and a half years of incarceration. Many eyewitnesses later testified they were pressured to frame Dixon, but none of the witnesses who claimed he was innocent were even called by his lawyer.
Dixon served his time at New York's Attica Correctional Facility. He turned to art as an escape in prison. He remarked that inside his six-by-eight-foot prison cell, he was drawing nonstop, 10 hours a day, never taking a day off. He wondered if he would have the same discipline when freed, reported Bet.
Dixon was charged in 1992 with attempted murder, second-degree murder, criminal possession of a weapon, and assault.
He shared the news of Michelle reaching out to him on Instagram on Christmas Day.
Dixon honed his craft for six to 10 hours every day in prison.
Instead of being remarkably angry and jaded, he has devoted the last few years to public speaking and advocacy.