"I don't think I ever hit the ground," he says of his freshman year. "I felt like I was in a magical place."
He worked in dining services in the newly opened Ruth Collins Residence Hall to pay for his room and board his first year.
He lived in Brooks 308 his sophomore year, and his roommate's name was Perry Mason. "Try to get a check cashed with that name," he laughs.
He has so-called perfect pitch, a perfect ear and can play anything on the piano. He was a promising operatic singer who studied with Marilyn Horne's voice instructor at USC.
Grady Nutt was his youth pastor at First Baptist, Waco, where people "opened their hearts to us on Sunday mornings and Sunday nights, and then opened their homes to us as well."