West Philadelphia native Derrick Hayes lands on cover of Essence Magazine

Derrick Hayes is a budding restaurateur in Atlanta with two cheesesteak shops. But he'll tell you, it's been a journey.
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- In West Philadelphia, he was born and raised - and now he's on this month's cover of Essence Magazine.

It seems like Derrick Hayes has it all. He's a budding restaurateur in Atlanta with two cheesesteak shops. But he'll tell you, it's been a journey.

"I've made some bad decisions where I got myself a narcotics case in 2008. I fought the case for about nine months," he said.

Hayes thought his story would have ended behind bars, but in a twist of fate, he got a second chance while standing before a judge in Philadelphia.

"The D.A. didn't show up and the judge gave me an opportunity," he said. "They threw the case and it was a blessing for me because I didn't walk out of the courtroom with a felony and right now I'm helping people that made certain decisions and mistakes that I did."

Hayes finished his senior year at Overbrook High School. His father was diagnosed with lung cancer and his he says his dying wish was for him to get his life straight.

Hayes worked for the postal service and Bryn Mawr Hospital before moving to Atlanta to open a water ice spot.

When that didn't take off, he turned to what he knew best: cheesesteaks.

Big Dave's Cheesesteaks took off with Philly natives Eve and even Meek Mill stopping by.

Now, he and his girlfriend are two successful restauranteurs with a family and their success has caught the eye of Essence magazine.

When asked if he ever thought a kid from West Philadelphia would land on the cover of Essence magazine, he replied: "It's a dream. Will Smith did it."

"Will was on the cover. So, I knew it was possible because another Black man did it. Now I made it possible for the next generation because they see another Black man from West Philly do it," he said.

Hayes is also big on philanthropy. He and his girlfriend Pinky Cole are working to get life insurance for 25,000 Black men by 2023 and also dolling out biannual scholarships to college-bound students.
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