Former President Barack Obama took to Instagram this past week to reveal that his wife Michelle surprised him for Christmas by giving him a “drawing of the 12th hole at Augusta National” by the “terrific” artist Valentino Dixon. Obama went on to explain why this gift was so meaningful and powerful to him.
“Valentino grew up in Buffalo, New York, and developed a great skill and passion for drawing from a young age. Unfortunately, when he was 21, he was wrongfully convicted for a crime he didn’t commit and sentenced to a minimum of 38 ½ years in prison,” Obama wrote.
“For more than two decades behind bars, he maintained his innocence,” the former president added. “Eventually, he renewed his passion for art, thanks to the advice of his uncle, who told him, ‘If you reclaim your talent, you can reclaim your life.’ Despite never visiting a golf course, he went on to use photos from magazines to draw golf courses like the one in this photo. His art and his story gained national attention in 2012 through his family’s tireless advocacy and a couple of profiles in golf publications. Then, in 2018, three undergraduate students from Georgetown’s Innocence Project uncovered evidence that proved the innocence Valentino had maintained all along. And after 27 years, he was free.”
“Today, Valentino travels extensively to share his story and promote the need for criminal justice reform. And thankfully, for me and for so many others, he continues to draw,” he concluded. “I’m so proud to have one of his works to display.”
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Dixon addressed this on his own Instagram page, writing, “Michelle Obama reaching out to buy a golf drawing for Barack Obama for Christmas was an honor and a privilege. This drawing took more than 400 hours and I believe is the largest golf drawing in the world, measuring 60 [inches] x 90 [inches].”
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Michelle also took to Instagram to celebrate Christmas, posting a photo of her family’s two dogs, Bo and Sunny, wearing Santa hats.
“Wishing you light, love, and wonder during this holiday season,” she wrote. “May the coming year bring us all joy and peace.”
Wishing you light, love, and wonder during this holiday season. May the coming year bring us all joy and peace. pic.twitter.com/TGmypcJVPC
— Michelle Obama (@MichelleObama) December 25, 2020
Obama himself had another Christmas message as well, writing in part, “This Christmas looks different for all of us. As we spend time with those we love — in person or virtually — let us celebrate the blessings we cherish, embrace the spirit of giving, and look out for one another. From my family to yours, Merry Christmas!”
This piece was written by Mark Baker on January 2, 2021. It originally appeared in UpliftingToday and is used by permission.
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