Derrick Hayes Breaks Generational Curses Through Community and Entrepreneurship

Derrick Hayes has become a popular face behind one of the nation's newest food sensations. Launching Big Dave’s Cheesesteaks restaurant in the Atlanta area was not only a dream but a way to honor the man who gave him life while changing the lives of others.

Born and raised in West Philadelphia, Derrick grew up with the mindset of winning but in order to do it, he knew his surroundings would have to change. “I come from the jungle so I was born to be a survivor,” he says. One thing that allowed him to believe in himself was the relationship he had with his father. As he grew older, the conversations they had would change his trajectory and lead him to leave Philadelphia to create a different life in Atlanta.

“Back in 2009, my father got diagnosed with lung cancer, and all the way up to his deathbed that was a learning lesson for me. I got an opportunity to actually talk to my father one-on-one before he passed. His dying wish was for me to change myself because he believed in me. I could break the barriers of our generational curses and I could carry the torch. I took that and I ran with it because, honestly, when you make a promise to somebody that you respect so much, it hurts so bad when you feel like you failed them,” Derrick shares.

During his younger years, he vividly remembers going to church with his aunt. One day, someone spoke to him and said he would one day grow up and preach to people. At this time, he didn’t believe that and had aspirations of being a basketball player. But little did he know those words would become true. Although he isn’t in a church behind a pulpit, he has created a brand that garnered a large following and those people would listen to his words. His words have inspired people. His words have changed the lives of many and his words continue to strengthen every person he enco