Willie Horton's unbreakable bond with Judge Damon Keith

Detroit Tigers’ Legend, Willie Horton, decided to take us on a walk through memory lane. 

“I just got this trophy on my 50th anniversary,” Horton said. “World series gift right though there.”

Horton has been thinking a lot about his career, life and the man who helped him accomplish so much, Federal Court Judge Damon Keith. 

“There’s no words I can really express to say how much he really means to me, it’s beyond words,” Horton said. 

Judge Keith died on April 28 at the age of 96. He spent more than 50 years on the bench and was considered a champion for civil rights. But, before he died, he was an attorney and mentor to Horton. 

“I say judge Keith, but to me that’s my dad and that’s something that is mine and I hope to continue doing things that he taught me in life,” Horton said. 

The father/son bond was unbreakable and when Horton’s parents were killed in a car accident in 1965, Judge Keith and his wife never left his side. 

“I think I live my life according to how he taught me and watch him care about people. When you care about life and people, there is no color, you just look at life,” said Horton. 

In a past interview with FOX 2, Judge Keith recounted how he helped Horton get on the right track when he was young. 

“His mother called and says ‘attorney Keith Willie is driving without a driver’s license’ I said Willie ‘your mother says you’re driving without a driver’s license.’ He says ‘no Mr. Keith here is a driver’s license.’ I then said ‘no that’s not yours.”

Horton recalls other moments of tough love. 

“I come in the house about quarter after 11 and I thought he said 11:30 and I came in the garage door and I see mother Keith and he come through boom and hit me in my chest and he said ’11 o’clock means 11 o’clock my son.”

As Horton prepares to say his final goodbyes to Judge Keith, he tells FOX 2 what it was like to get a call telling him that the man he called dad was gone. 

“I stayed to myself,” Horton said. “He’s never gone. He’ll be with me. So I’ve been blessed and I thank God every moment.”