BROWNSBURG — Morris Virgil still shakes his head when remembering the times his mother would scream “Get down! Get down!” to he and his siblings — he had 11 in all — and they’d lie on the ground listening to the gunshots pop just outside their windows.
He’s come a long way from that Chicago southside childhood and his experiences along the way make the success that much sweeter.
Virgil is owner of V-Fit Personal Training, which opened in Brownsburg in early December.
“Growing up, I probably had one of the hardest childhoods a kid could have,” he said. “I grew up in a broken home. I was put in foster homes when I was 5 years old. But at that young age, I understood what was going on in my life, my situation. I was surrounded by gang violence, things of that nature.”
With his father incarcerated and his grandmother unable to raise all of his mother’s children, Virgil and three of his brothers were taken from their home and placed in foster care.
“Going through that process and being taken away from the people you love was the most horrifying thing to me,” he said. “I never went back home. I thought I was going to, but I never did. And when I was in foster care ... things happen in those homes. Physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. I just wanted to go home and be with my family. I remember sitting there thinking ‘isn’t there somebody out there that wants us?’”
Virgil’s mother died when he was 9. While living in foster care, he was allowed to visit his father, a wounded Vietnam veteran. The plan was for the boys to eventually go home to live with their father, but that never materialized.
“I don’t remember a whole lot about my dad, but he was my hero,” Virgil said. “He was cool to me. Everything fell apart when my mom passed away, and my dad just stopped coming, stopped seeing us. He went off and got married and gave up his rights to us. I don’t know the situation fully. There was some sexual abuse in the home and it happened to me. I was physically abused. I had to go through the horror of thinking that I was the one that was going to get in trouble, and I was scared. So we were pulled out of that home and went to another one for a year.