Former Neo-Nazi Removes Swastika Tattoos After Encouragement From A New Friend

"I don’t want my kids to live the life I lived ... "

Shedding skin from a past life can prove difficult, especially when it requires some literal shedding.  

Michael Kent is a former neo-Nazi who had swastikas tattooed on his body, but has since reformed his views thanks to the help of a new friend named Tiffany Whittier. Whittier, who is his parole officer and is African-American, is helping Kent see a new way of life, outside the confines of skin color and ethnic makeup.

"If it wasn't for her, I would have seeped back into it," the 38-year-old Colorado man told ABC News about his past in a violent Arizona-based skinhead group. "I look at her as family."

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By replacing his Nazi flags hanging in his home with smiley faces at the advice of Whittier, Kent began to see a brighter side of life. "When you wake up and see a smiley face, you're going to go to work and you're going to smile," he said.

Redemption Ink, a national non-profit that offers free removals of hate-related tattoos, referred Kent to Fallen Heroes Tattoo in Colorado Springs. There, he is getting his swastikas covered up one step at a time in a rigorous and painful process that could take up to 15-hours total to complete.

"I don't want my kids to live the life I lived and live with hate," he told ABC News. "I want my kids to know me for who I am now — a good father, a hard worker, and a good provider."

The father-of-two now works on a chicken farm with all Hispanic co-workers and smiles at the thought that during company parties he's "the only White guy there!"

Other reformed Nazis have also gone through the painful process of removing their tattoos in order to move forward with their new outlook on life.

In 2011, Bryon Widner, who was featured in the documentary Erasing Hate, endured 25 surgeries to remove his racist body ink. He was desperate to rid himself of reminders that held him captive in the hate he no longer believed in.

His transition was amazing and uncovered a whole new man.

These stories show us it's never too late to change your views, and turn hate into love. Sometimes all you need is an unexpected friend to help show you the light. 

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