While most teenagers were learning how to drive and experimenting with their newfound freedom, Bobby Hines was getting used to his new life in a jail cell. The then-15-year-old was sentenced to life in prison without parole for his involvement in the fatal shooting of 21-year-old James Warren in 1989.
Then, in 2012, the Supreme Court ruled in Miller v. Alabama that it was unconstitutional to sentence juvenile offenders to life in prison without parole. That meant Hines, and the nearly 2,000 others like him, had a second chance at freedom.
"I thought I was finished. I got a new start."
The Supreme Court case not only changed the rule of law for future juvenile offenders, but it also applied to cases retroactively. That meant states had one of two options: either schedule resentencing hearings, or make inmates eligible for parole.
In this case, Hines was given a resentencing hearing. There, the victim's family emotionally argued before the judge for his release.
"I wish he could take it back," said Warren's sister, Valencia Warren-Gibbs. "I wish that for him. I can't say that it would bring my brother back."
The event spawned an unlikely relationship, blurring the lines between perpetrator and victim. Following Hines' recent release, the two met up. Hines said the gathering was important so that he could directly apologize to the victim's family for his actions, but also thank them for giving him a chance at redemption.
Bobby Hines was locked up for life. Now he gets a taste of freedom.
But the meeting wasn't only helpful for Hines. It also brought a sense of closure to a nearly three decades-old case for the victim's family.
"I just wanted you out," Warren-Gibbs said. "I wanted this over. I wanted you to get beyond that."
Reintegrating back into normal society will likely prove difficult for Hines. He'll have to navigate the increasingly interconnected world, crowded job market, and ruthless dating scene.
"This person thought they were going to die in prison. Now, here they are, dressed like any of us are dressed and coming out into this society."
Valerie Newman, Hines' lawyer
But, Hines said, that doesn't matter. What matters is experiencing that sense of liberation that he relinquished so early on.
"But everything is all good now, though," he said. "It's all about living."