At the age of nine, Freddie Figgers received his first computer. It was old and didn’t work, but it was the beginning of a love affair with technology that would lead him to become an inventor, entrepreneur, and telecoms millionaire – a future few could have predicted given his difficult upbringing. “Don’t let your circumstances define who you are,” he said.
At the age of nine, Freddie Figgers received his first computer. It was old and didn’t work, but it was the beginning of a love affair with technology that would lead him to become an inventor, entrepreneur, and telecoms millionaire – a future few could have predicted given his difficult upbringing. “He said, ‘Listen, I’m going to shoot it straight, Fred. Your biological mother, she threw you away, and me and Betty Mae, we didn’t want to send you through foster care and we adopted you, and you’re my son.'”
“When he told me that, I was like, ‘OK I’m trash,’ and I felt unwanted. But my father grabbed my shoulder and he said, ‘Listen, don’t you ever let that bother you.'” Nathan Figgers worked as a handyman and maintenance worker, and Betty Mae Figgers worked as a farm worker. When Freddie was born in 1989, they were in their 50s and lived in Quincy, a rural community of about 8,000 people in North Florida.
They had already fostered a number of children before deciding to adopt Freddie when he was just two days old. They gave Freddie all the love he could ever want, according to Freddie, but other children in Quincy can be cruel. “Kids used to bully me and call me, ‘Dumpster baby,’ ‘Trash can boy,’ ‘Nobody wants you,’ ‘You’re dirty,'” he says.
It got to the point where his father would meet him at the bus stop and walk him home, but the kids mocked Nathan as well, “saying, ‘Ha ha, look at the old man with the cane,'” Freddie recalls. Nathan and Betty Mae were heroes to Freddie, and they were great role models.
He was already a fan of tinkering with Nathan’s collection of radios, alarm clocks, and VCRs, and now the broken Mac was the center of his attention. “When I got it home and it wouldn’t come on, I took the computer apart,” says Freddie. When his abilities were noticed by others, he was 12 years old. While other children were playing in the playground, Freddie went to an after-school club and began repairing broken computers in the school’s computer lab. It was a crucial turning point in Freddie’s life.
In 2015, Freddie married attorney Natlie Figgers, and the couple has a daughter. He runs a foundation that invests in education and healthcare projects, as well as helping disadvantaged children and families, in addition to his businesses. Donating bicycles to foster children and providing personal protective equipment to people fighting the coronavirus pandemic are two recent initiatives.
Freddie says the most important piece of life advice he would give his daughter is to “never give up, no matter how cold the world appears,” and to try to make a positive difference in the lives of everyone you meet. Nathan, Freddie’s father and biggest supporter, would have agreed wholeheartedly with this message.
Indeed, God blesses those who persevere. He sees the cry of the abandoned and puts them in the care of those who will genuinely love them. Jesus also tells us that he will not leave us as orphans but will one day take us to live with him in Paradise.