Cleo Marshall sharing “Second Chance” after prison, drug abuse

Published 12:15 am Friday, December 13, 2019

Cleo Marshall has been knocked down in life to the deepest darkest depths, sometimes due to circumstances out of his control and sometimes due to his own mistakes.

He has stood on the ledge of the Martin Luther King Jr. Bridge that straddles the Sabine Neches River contemplating suicide, spent 15 years in prison, survived being run over and dragged for half a block and shed the stronghold of drugs.

But God has other plans for the Port Arthur man whose life story reads like a movie. With some guidance from his pastor, the Rev. Kelvin Solco of Victory Christian Church, Marshall penned his story in hopes of reaching others who may be in need of help.

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His book, “A Second Chance at Life,” is available for purchase on for $10 plus shipping and handling.

The cover of Cleo Marshall’s book. (Courtesy image)


Marshall, the oldest of three brothers, saw the negative effects of drug and alcohol abuse but also had a godmother and grandmother who were church going family members.

Marshall went back and forth in this circle of positive and negative influences but said he was falsely implicated as taking part in a robbery. Just a teenager, he received 10 years deferred probation and later connected with a local church family who took him in as his legal guardians.

He changed high schools, got an after-school job and passing grades, he had a girlfriend and things were starting to look up for him.

Then a fire was set in a locker at his high school, gossiping happened and the blame was pinned on him, though he says he was innocent.

“I got 15 years,” he said while next to Solco in one of the church buildings on Thursday. “Arson violated the probation.”

So he sat in juvenile detention until he was 18 and old enough to go to prison.

“The first thing I did was get my GED,” he said, adding that with a GED he would be able to get a job once he was released.

After prison

After being released, he wanted to search for the love of his life and was successful. She had moved to California and came down to Port Arthur for a few weeks. The two established a relationship, got married and had a child.

Things began to look up but not longterm.

“For a couple of years I was like a runaway train,” he said. “I tried to harm myself, wanted to end it and God said no.”

Having no job with a steady income opened the door he had hoped was shut forever — drugs. He got into using synthetic marijuana, hit a few parked cars while under the influence, his marriage was on shaky grounds. Most of his memories of the day at the bridge are gone. He does remember calling police but told them he was at a different bridge.

“I got to the top,” he said. “I remember that. I’m looking down.”

Traffic was stopped in one lane and there were boats for rescue/recovery in the water far below. An 18-wheeler went by and a guy shouted, “Don’t do it my brother, I’m praying for you.”

That’s when he said he woke up, as if from a daze.

The ups and downs continued in his life. He lost his home to Hurricane Harvey in 2017 and in 2018 he woke up in an ambulance after being hit by a car and dragged half-a-block.

Recovery and beyond

Marshall’s recovery was miraculous and led to an epiphany.

“My accident opened my eyes. It was my second chance at life from God,” he said in a press release for his book.

A musician, Marshall spends church services on the drums and praying.

His pastor knows the importance of the book — for Marshall to tell his story and, hopefully, reach someone with his message as well as leaving a legacy for his daughter, age 6.

Marshall also hopes to do a book reading at the Port Arthur Public Library.