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Handcuffs and Coding: A SWFL man teaches coding after serving time in prison

Antoine Patton says his daughter is his inspiration
Posted at 8:49 PM, Mar 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-21 03:27:30-04

CAPE CORAL, Fla. -- A Southwest Florida man is moving from incarceration to inspiration.

Antoine Patton built a future while serving time in prison.

Now, he has his own organization. He teaches people the art of computer coding with his biggest inspiration by his side - his daughter.

It hasn’t always been like this for the Buffalo, New York native. Just 4 years ago, he was in prison for having an illegal firearm, and served an 8-year sentence.

"That was the most devastating part to me. I always come back to my daughter because I was ready to be a father," Patton said.

Patton explains he wanted to become a better person. He enrolled in a college program while serving his time. That’s when he found computer science. But, he wasn't too into the idea at first. He said it took reading a magazine about applications and technology to get him excited about the idea. But, he was two months too late to take the class.

But, that didn't stop him.

"Me being me, I took a book anyway to the cell and started teaching myself how to code," he said.

For 4 months and 9 hours a day, he stayed in his cell and learned all he could.

He was released in 2015. That's when he launched the "Photo Patch,” app with his daughter, Jay Jay. Photo Patch is a mobile app designed for kids to send pictures and letters to their parents while they're incarcerated.

If you ask Jay Jay, who’s a 13-year-old role model and an app creator, she says her dad makes her want to be better.

"I feel like I need to do better for him because he has done all this from going to prison and all that so I need to contribute to that somehow," Jay Jay said.

Now, they have a goal to teach 220,000 people to code by 2020, from people of color to kids of all ages.

"People think coding is impossible to learn, I was one of those people and was like hey let me show you how easy it is to learn," Patton said.

The journey doesn't stop there. On Wednesday, he and his daughter Jay Jay, were featured on The Steve Harvey Show. Patton explains it was quite the ride to get there, too. Patton says his "Unlock Academy," a class he started to help people reach their fullest potential, gained a big following on social media.

Hundreds of people tagged Steve Harvey to get Patton on the show. Patton says twenty-four hours later, he got a response from Steve Harvey's team.

"Within a month we were flown out to Hollywood, we did the show, met Steve and everything, it’s just been a great man, the feedback has just been tremendous," Patton said.

You can check out the "Photo Patch" site here.