Bennie Heard's long, exhausting wait is over.
Finally, he's a free man and able to pursue his dream of boxing again.
His boxing career took a back seat for 20 years, because he was serving a prison sentence for having killed a man during a card game in his native Elbert County back in the 80s.
Mr. Heard stayed clean during his prison years and regrets that his anger allowed him to take another man's life. The shame of that mistake will follow him the rest of his life, he said during an interview I had with him in his prison cell a number of years ago.
That was then and this is now - a new life for a man now set free from the confines of barbed wire fence and armed guards all around.
The freedom that Mr. Heard now knows allows him to continue his boxing career.
I'm thankful that this man has fulfilled all he ever wanted to do.
Already, this year, Mr. Heard has fought twice - coming out the winner in both Atlanta and Augusta.
The latest win came last Wednesday night at the Bell Auditorium in Augusta. It didn't last long, though. The bout ended with a knockout of his opponent in the first-round.
Unfortunately, I wasn't there to witness it. But I sure wish I had been there. For I not only wrote a two-page sports feature on Mr. Heard while he still was in prison, we also became friends.
And till this day, I wish Mr. Heard only the best.
I guess I realize how close we all are at making serious mistakes in our lives. And having covered as many crime stories as I have over the years gives me a little insight, I believe when it comes to a person having changed.
Mr. Heard told me during the lengthy interview, years ago, that he had sought forgiveness from God for taking the man's life and had sought forgiveness from the man's relatives, too.
"God has forgiven me and that's all I was ever really worried about," Mr. Heard told me.
In the case of Bennie Heard, I know deep down in my heart that he's a changed man - a man who is very sorry for what he did, but a man now destined to pick up the pieces of his life and make the best of what's left.
His quest on that journey already has begun. I can truly say that I am very proud of him and wish him only the best from this moment forward.
Mr. Heard, a former member of the U.S. Olympic Boxing Team and a friend of Evander Holyfield, twice heavy weight champion of the world, is destined for great things!