ST. PAUL, Minn. – Life sometimes carries us to deep, dark, places. This is a story about climbing out. It starts with a self-absorbed drug dealer standing before a federal judge in Minneapolis. Michael Bellotti was 24 years old, a veteran of multiple arrests – and newly sentenced to more than 12 years in prison. “To listen to the judge convict him was probably one of the worst things a parent could ever hear,” says his mother, Diana Williams. “It doesn’t even seem real,” adds Bellotti, looking back. As he was hauled off to federal prisons in Sandstone and then Duluth, Bellotti couldn’t have slipped much lower. Turns out, that’s what it took for him to begin picking himself back up. Encouraged by another inmate, Bellotti started painting. He’d lost interest in his studies early on in high school, and certainly didn’t take an art class. But once he started, he couldn’t stop.

He painted Evan’s portrait – you will see it in the bottom right he’s wearing a suit & red tie…

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