You hear the word "potential" a lot when talking about the problems facing young people and their decisions of staying on the straight and narrow or veering off into life on the streets.
Few lives show that split path more clearly than Roosevelt Benjamin's.
Benjamin, in the minds of many, is among the most gifted natural athletes Erie has ever produced.
Strong, big and fast, he is blessed with a body that seemed destined for a linebacker job in the NFL.
Police officers still shake their heads over the time he outran a bicycle patrol officer. The officer was in good shape and on a high performance bike. And Benjamin still outran him on foot.
It seemed his athletic achievements were always dogged by a life spent on the edge of trouble.
He was even sent to school out of state in the hopes that he could put aside the street life to concentrate on football.
But a return to Erie prompted a return to the old ways. He rode around on a bright gold, tricked out bicycle that was impossible to miss.
He was injured in a shooting once. A career that could have gone to the top stopped with All Star performances on local arena football teams.
This week Roosevelt Benjamin was arrested and charged with bringing marijuana into town. Four hundred pounds of Jamaican marijuana that veteran officers called the biggest haul they had ever seen in these parts, valued at more than a million dollars.
As we speak, Benjamin, now 36 years old, sits in jail. A future that once looked bright is now clouded by the real possibility of years in prison.
It brings to mind that famous quote:
Of all the words of mouth and pen, the saddest are these: It might have been.