ABOUT THE FOUNDER
TUBA Founder Waverly Willis was born January 18, 1971 in Cleveland, Ohio. He was the youngest of 3 boys and 1 girl. Growing up, Waverly witnessed a lot of domestic violence. His father frequently beat his mother until they got divorced when he was 10 years old. Drugs and alcohol was often present during his childhood. In spite of these obstacles Waverly managed to do well in school. In junior high school he was introduced to organized sports where he immediately excelled all the way through high school. Waverly placed first in over 30 wrestling tournaments and placed 3rd in his region at heavy weight. In football, Waverly was channel 8’s Player of the Week, The Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Defensive Player of the Year, and a USA Today Honorable Mention All American. Numerous Scholarship offers poured in. Waverly decided to play football for Kent State University.
Waverly’s college career was a challenge, not academically, but physically and socially. As a poor college kid, Waverly realized that if he sold drugs he could make lots of fast cash, and that’s what he did. The lifestyle of lots of fast money and partying was more important than anything to him. His career of alcoholism and drug use was in full bloom at this point. Waverly dropped out of school to be a drug dealer. Drugs and alcohol slowly began to take over his life to the point of him becoming a full blown alcoholic and drug addict. Like a roller coaster Waverly was on top one minute and at the bottom the next. Losing homes, cars and relationships he was now homeless. Literally sleeping on the streets, begging people for money to support his habits, and eating out of trash dumpsters was an ordinary day. He sold everything he could to get drunk and high, except for one item, a case containing a pair of hair clippers. Cutting hair was also one of Waverly’s gifts that he had practiced at all of his life. Those clippers aided in getting him a decent meal many days.
Waverly would cut hair at bus stops, restaurant bathrooms, the Greyhound bus station, and any other place that had a power outlet. He stumbled across financial aid for barber school and began attending school while still homeless and addicted to drugs and alcohol. Eventually Waverly had a spiritual awakening and checked into a drug and alcohol treatment homeless shelter where he got clean and sober.
While Waverly lived in the shelter he witnessed many people who had gone through hard times. Domestic violence, joblessness, homelessness, illiteracy and drug and alcohol addiction are only a few issues that he saw other people deal with. From that moment Waverly knew that his life was meant to help people out of the terrible conditions they were in. This is where and when TUBA/ The Urban Barber Association was born.
Today Waverly enjoys a normal life as a productive citizen,maintaining his sobriety through support groups in alcohol and narcotics anonymous Waverly claims not to be a religious person however a spiritual being. He lives by his personal creed of” God is everything or nothing at all”.Remaining to be humble and always staying teachable are 2 of Waverly’s life long goals. He owns Urban Kutz barbershop on Cleveland Ohio’s near west side,which the first business in The Urban Barber Association.
Waverly made several promises to his mother,Wardell Willis,before she passed away,one of which was to finish his college education.Recently this promise was fulfilled when he graduated from Cleveland State University with a bachelors degree in non profit administration with a 3.42 grade point average. “I feel we are all here to help each other”says Waverly,A big man with an even bigger heart. Armaunna and Venezia are Waverly’s two daughters whom he loves dearly,he says they help to keep him focused on the most important things in life. Waverly has overcame many obstacles that would have made many people give up on life. Homelessness,substance abuse,domestic violence,poverty, abandonment and depression are just few issues he overcame. Waverly prides himself on being able to look broken people of similar circumstances in the eye and say…
“I understand what you are going through and I can help you with that”.