Having a gap in your resume is typically a cause for concern, but for Nevest Coleman it made no difference.
His former employer welcomed him back with open arms, even after a 23-year absence.
“I saved your spot for you,” one of his former co-workers said on his first day back on the job.
In 1994 Coleman was wrongfully convicted of rape and murder.
In April 1994 Coleman was arrested in connection with the rape and murder of Antwinica Bridgeman. He was convicted and sentenced to life in prison without parole.
According to the Innocence Project, in mid-2016 the case was re-opened and DNA evidence revealed that Coleman had been wrongly convicted. On November 17, 2017, Coleman’s convictions were vacated and three days later he was released from prison after having been imprisoned for 23 years.
Prior to his arrest, Coleman was a well-respected employee with the White Sox.
Before Coleman’s arrest, he had worked as one of the grounds crew for the Chicago White Sox.
“I felt comfortable here; everyone was like family to me,” Coleman told CBS Chicago. “I’d wake up in the morning and be proud to come to work.”
And it was that same family who was glad to offer him a position with the team after he was exonerated.
23 years later Coleman returned to work for the White Sox.
"I saved your spot for you!" Man freed from prison after 23 years for a crime he didn't commit is welcomed back to his job with the Chicago White Sox with open arms. https://t.co/7HOW3KcISu pic.twitter.com/qqDuzZkR07
— ABC News (@ABC) March 27, 2018
Coleman, now 49 years old, interviewed with the Chicago White Sox after his attorney, who knew Coleman since he was little, and his cousin reached out to the team.
“His first wish, before he wished for a hamburger, was to work for the White Sox,” Richard Coleman, Nevest’s cousin, told the Chicago Tribune. “That’s exactly what I told them.”
Coleman was welcomed back to work by two of his former coworkers.
The White Sox organization heard about Coleman, and they arranged for an interview and offered the 49-year-old his old job back. Coleman arrived at Guaranteed Rate Field for his first day of work with a smile on his face.
He was greeted by Harry Smith and Jerry Powe, two of the men whom Coleman worked with back in the early 90s.
“He’s got the qualifications,” Powe told MLB.com. “He had them then. He still has them now.”
Although two decades ago they were all on the grounds crew, Powe is now Coleman’s supervisor.
He is extremely grateful to be working because it makes him feel independent.
“They didn’t have to hire me back,” Coleman said. “I appreciate the White Sox giving me the opportunity to come back to work.”
Coleman, who is understandably excited about his new job, is looking forward to turning his part-time job into a full-time position and living each day to the fullest.
“If I’m miserable, then everybody else around me will be miserable. If I’m angry, everybody else will be angry. Why be angry? It’s time to live my life now. I have my son, daughter, three grandbabies, sisters and brothers. I don’t need them to be miserable and angry because I am. I live day by day and do the best I can. There isn’t any sense being angry anymore.”