My mother's parents were Dave and Alice Warden, and my mother was the second-oldest in her family, after her sister Patricia, my aunt Pat. She was followed by my uncle Dave, my aunt Brenda, my aunt Robin, my uncle Michael, then my aunt Michelle, who died when she was still a baby, and finally my aunt Kim—a family of eight. Their family was quite different from my dad's because they were Jehovah's Witnesses. Not my mother's father—he never went to meetings or church—but my grandmother and a few of my mom's sisters were very into it. Her family was kind and loving, but strict and very, very straightlaced.

My father's parents' home was definitely a looser place to be, with people laughing and hanging around and playing music, while the Wardens' home was like church on Sunday—every day. But I loved it there too. My mom's mother, Alice, was my baby. She was my heart. She was the one who gave me the love. Grandma Alice was more affectionate to me than anyone else was, my parents included. She'd hug me, she'd kiss me, and give me all the attention I really needed as a kid. She died a year before my father did, back when I was in high school, and I was devastated. I was living with my dad up in the Bronx at the time, and I remember coming home from school that day and him telling me she'd died. I broke down right there. And as soon as I got myself together I took the train out to Brooklyn. I had to be in her place with my mom's family right away. Alice Warden was my baby. I dedicated every single race I ran in track and every football game I played to her for the rest of my high school sports career. She was my surrogate mom during the years my mother and I didn't see eye to eye.

Excerpted from I Am the New Black by Tracy Morgan, with Anthony Bozza. Copyright © 2009 by Tracy Morgan. Excerpted by permission of Spiegel & Grau, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.


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