Odessa, TX – In a rare West Texas “Meet and Greet”, King Kutz on West County Road played host to former collegiate athlete and multi-talented star Victor Rivas Rivers.
Known to many as Magic Mike from ‘Blood In, Blood Out’, the veteran movie and television star, best-selling author, and renowned advocate for violence prevention has achieved an abundance of success. Given his violent upbringing, many of his achievements probably should not have happened. But thankfully, according to Rivers, “I had serious doubts I would be alive today, if not for a handful of individuals who were willing to take a stand on my behalf.”
As the longtime Miami, Florida native recalls, “As far back as age 12, I visited the local police department to report a lifetime of crime inflicted upon a child – me – and upon my mother, siblings, and pets.” Though the officers were horrified, they could do little to stop Rivers’ father. The torture committed behind closed doors, according to law enforcement, was “a private family matter.”
By age 15, his father kidnapped him and his siblings, and transported them to a different state. Rivers ran away, living briefly on the streets before taking then-unprecedented legal action against his father. With a restraining order to protect him, the Florida courts allowed Rivers to become an unofficial foster child.
Through the help of his high school, he went on to live with a series of families, who oversaw his transformation from rage-filled gang member to senior class president. “Many of my ‘angels’, as I call them, were educators. I had an eighth grade teacher who literally fed me when my father instituted a starvation diet at home. There was also my high school coaches who refused to let me quit the team and drop out of school, ultimately gave me the confidence to earn a full four-year football scholarship at Florida State University and a stint in the NFL.”
After his last season at FSU, the acting bug first bit Rivers when he was cast in the film ‘Semi-Tough’, which starred Burt Reynolds and Kris Kristofferson. Though tempted to pursue a path to the movie business, he planned to use his degree in Criminology and enter the Air Force officer training program and eventually work into intelligence. However, fate intervened in the form of a phone call offering him the opportunity to play as a free agent with the Miami Dolphins. His football career would last all of two seasons.
After being dubbed the “Longest of Long Shots” by the Miami sports media, Rivers pursued another long shot in Hollywood as an actor. Originally from Sancti Spiritus, Cuba, he also changed his last name from Rivas to Rivers to avoid being stereotyped by the entertainment industry. He has since attained a global following with roles in over two dozen movies that have hit the silver screen, including: ‘The Mask of Zorro’, ‘The Hulk’, ‘Blood In, Blood Out’, ‘The Lost City’, and ‘The Distinguished Gentleman’. He has been cast on multiple TV series, including: Law & Order LA, CSI Miami, JAG, and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
Not to be content with just acting, Rivers has authored a book close to his heart. In ‘A Private Family Matter’, he chronicles his escape from the War Zone of family violence. His memoir is a testament to the village that literally raised a child, and to our human capacity to triumph over cruelty. The Cuban-born author starts by recalling when he was kidnapped on a cross-country hell-ride that nearly ended in a fatal collision. ‘A Private Family Matter’ is ultimately a triumphant testament to humanity, courage and love. As Rivers writes, it’s “my way of thanking all the angels and advocates who tried to make a difference in my life.”
Rivers has become an activist and spokesperson against domestic violence, child abuse, and on behalf of advocates working to end violence against women and children. As a survivor, who was able to break the cycle of violence, Rivers has chosen to break his silence about new ways to confront different forms of abuse – what he views as “society’s most prevalent yet most curable social disease”. Since 1999, he has served as a national spokesperson for the ‘National Network to End Domestic Violence’. Rivers travels regularly to Washington to speak with members of Congress. He has met with governors and the President of the United States. Rivers has spoken extensively at international conferences, to school assemblies, at organizational meetings, fund-raisers, and in the media, telling his story from his heart.
The Air I Breathe
Let It Snow
The Mask of Zorro
Blood In, Blood Out
Seal Big, Steal Little
The Lost City
One Good Cop
Brothers In War
8 Million Ways to Die
In Too Deep
A Million To Juan
Law & Order: LA
Bold and Beautiful
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine