Member Spotlight: Korey Duff

Sep 5, 2023 | Articles, Member Spotlight

Here, we have a story of redemption – the story of a LeTip member who understands struggle, who turned his life around. Meet Korey Duff, member of the LeTip of Port Jefferson chapter and owner of KD’s Black Magic Seal Coating. It’s probably best to have the story be told directly by him:

Let me tell you a little bit of why I smile so hard, now. I wasn’t a silver spoon baby; I was lucky to even have a spoon. I had it so bad my 1st grade teacher felt bad for the way I would show up, dressed for class. She witnessed my feet coming thru the front of my sneakers and took note of my dirty clothes. She felt compelled to spend her own money on me. To this day, I will never forget that kind gesture.

I come from a dark place. While growing up without my mother (victim of the streets) and father (did 35 years in prison), I struggled badly with behavioral issues. I was passed around to different family members to take care of me. My silver lining came from the time I spent living with my aunt in Shirley, New York and when I loved with my grandmother in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I thank them, both, for instilling some good in me. However, at the age of fifteen, dark clouds came around again for me. My grandmother passed away and I was forced to move back to New York. Moving back to New York meant I had to move in with my mother, whom I hadn’t lived with since I was six years old. It didn’t take long. Within a week I moved out and have been on my own, since.

I was sixteen years old, on my own in New York. No positive role models around. I struggled to maintain myself. The only people that were there for me were the neighborhood drug dealers and gang members. There were many nights with nowhere to go or place to sleep. I’d sleep in cars, bushes – all types of crazy scenarios. Hungry and broke, I resorted to what I was taught on those streets. So, I indulged in many of the negative activities of my neighborhood in order to provide for myself. Yet, I was still going to school and making excellent grades! Football was my only healthy release in life. It’s the only thing I did well and that made me feel complete. I did so well in it that as my senior year approached, I was getting looked at by several colleges. I found myself on the edge of opportunities to pursue my dream of a football career. That’s when those negative activities I took part of came into play and everything came crashing down around me. I was arrested and spent my senior year in jail.

I got my GED while in there and made a vow to myself to turn my life around. I didn’t want to be like my father and be a jail bird. I wanted to do better for myself. I just, honestly, didn’t know what to do or how to do it. After bumping my head a few more times in life, I grew tired of my lifestyle and surroundings. It’s so easy to say I’m going to do better, but without a solid plan and extreme determination it’s next to impossible. I enrolled in the local community college and obtained an early childhood education degree. I had always wanted to work with kids, particularly troubled kids, like myself. I went on to work as a pre-k teacher. It was very rewarding but just not enough money. It was time for something different. From there I was introduced to seal coating and paving by older cousin. After working with the company for some years, life circumstances led me to the opportunity to start my own business. That’s how KD’s Black Magic Seal Coating came to be.

I made it out of a severe storm. What completely changed the way I viewed life was the birth of my first child, KJ Duff. It would be a different story for my kids. Currently, my second my son is entering his senior year and is ranked as a top 200 top in the nation for football with 28 D1 offers. When a person sets their mind whole-heartedly to something and goes about acquiring all the necessary knowledge, nothing is impossible. My story is a dime a dozen where I come from, but not everyone has the willpower to want and do better for themselves. I refused to be a common statistic. I wouldn’t take back or change anything, because it made me who I am. Flawed and imperfect, but happy and smiling. That is why I smile so hard.

-Korey Duff
LeTip of Port Jefferson, NY