(LEX 18)– After spending 32 years in prison for rape, Tom Payne is about to walk out an enter a new world.
The former UK basketball player calls it the Space Age. We know it as everyday life with electric cars and smartphones. He told LEX 18’s Nancy Cox that he spent the past 32 years praying a lot. He didn’t think he was going to make parole.
Last week, the parole board told him he’d get another chance. Many people were surprised that he’s getting out after three rapes.
“It’s not a victory lap,” he said. “I don’t feel like I’ve won anything.”
Whether or not you believe in his remorse, certain words ring true, he talks about the dream he squandered playing for a legend at UK.
“You can’t get it back. Can’t get the damage back. Can’t get the pain back of hurting someone else. The disgrace back, the reproach back. The shame back,” said Payne.
He told LEX 18 that one of his biggest regrets was hiding the anger and resentment that came with playing ball in a segregated south. Payne was the only black man on his team. He says he felt a lot of pressure.
From prison, Payne heard of another UK tragedy, Melvin Turpin’s suicide.
“If you’re seen as a Superman, you don’t feel you can talk and emote like other people. You won’t go to other people for help. I just held it in ya know? I just held it in, and held it in,” said Payne.
Once released, he says he’ll work to reach other young men, other athletes, and try to turn them from the path of violence he chose.
Payne says he’s already been accepted into a successful reentry program in Michigan and hopes to turn around and work for that group in the future. He said that because of his love for the state, he hopes to come back to the Bluegrass to share his story and help others.
No victims or families were present at Payne’s hearing. They did not submit statements last week or during the hearing in 2016.
LEX 18’s Nancy Cox attempted to reach out them, but her attempts were not successful.