ATLANTA - Graham was in his 20s when he started using drugs and his life began to spiral out of control. In his early 40s, he was still struggling with addiction and working a day job when he was severely injured and ended up in a wheelchair for a year. When he was able to walk again, he turned that same wheelchair into a snack cart.
"I put a cooler in it and put chips in it and started walking around downtown," said Graham.
Eventually, he started peddling his snacks from a bike painted bright yellow.
"I had developed a route, barber shops, and beauty salons, apartment complexes. I would ride my bike eight hours a day," said Graham.
A couple of years into his recovery he reunited with his college sweetheart, Tanya. She encouraged him to open a convenience store on Auburn Avenue. The same street on which he used to sleep. “Big Mouth Ben” has been open almost four years now.
He has a special relationship with people who are still on the street, often letting them help out in the store and lending them a hand when they need a little extra help. He prays his journey of how he got off the streets give them hope.
"It was God, it was the absence of drugs and determination," said Graham.
One day, he'd like to see a chain of Big Mouth Ben stores in communities, all offering the same inspiration as the one on Auburn Avenue.
Graham also shares his story with school, civic organizations, and at the Family Drug Court Graduation.