For most of his years, Richie Kane struggled through a living hell of physical and sexual abuse, alcoholism and membership in one of the most notorious gangs in the country.
But now this former Hells Angel is empowered with a new force. Kane has chronicled his journey to a better life in a self-published book called "The Bronx Street Kid: Into 12-Step Recovery." He sees it as a way for him to pass on the hope he has now embraced.
"God has been so kind to me," he says, "allowed me the strength to come back."
Now the New York native describes his vision of heaven, where God "rides a Harley" and there is "no hatred, no violence, there are no beatings, and you ride your motorcycle in the clouds. You don't need gas!"
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Kane smiles easily now. But for most of his 52 years, he kept his emotions bottled inside.
"I hated myself. I became cocky and (it was) tough to hide (my problems), because I felt really damaged when I was younger," he said.
Kane survived an alcoholic father who regularly beat him. He says he was once abused with a pair of hedge clippers, causing his head to bleed so badly his pillow stuck to his bloody scalp. He was never taken to the hospital.
He also says that he was sexually molested by a stranger near the railroad tracks by his Bronx home — but never told his parents.
"I knew my father would blame me and beat me."
Like father like son: Kane turned to the bottle. It was the only thing they shared.
He later became an even tougher guy, joining the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club because to him, it was the most prestigious — the best. "I was arrogant and full of drinking. It was all ego."
But being tough was a way of shielding himself, he now says. "I said to myself nobody is ever going to do to me what was done to me as a kid. I'm not going to let anybody put their hands on me. I became a fighter."
His real battle came after a rival gang's members beat him and left him for dead. He was then thrown out of the Hell's Angels because members thought him too rowdy, and said he made the gang look bad. His alcoholism got so bad it gave him the shakes. His health deteriorated even further, and he contracted Hepatitis C.
"I ran and hid in a bottle of booze because I didn't know there was anything good in me. I asked God to show me the good in me."
And, he says, God answered that prayer. Through Alcoholics Anonymous, meditation and looking to a higher power, Kane found strength to forgive his father, the man who molested him, and the men who tried to kill him.
"They never touched my core being. That's where the light is. There's a part of everybody that's pure that nobody can get to you there."
Kane is seriously considering going to college, perhaps to study journalism. He's ready to explore new challenges for a new life, and new strength.
"I don't know what's going to happen (in the future), but I'm not afraid."