Thug to Stud: The Story of Dylan Harryman


One-Arm Bodybuilder

Current City: Austin, TX

Country: USA

Instagram: @d1armbeast

“Expect failure, own failure, accept failure. Failure is your best friend.”Dylan Harryman

Dylan is an Austin, TX resident who has a wild, “Breaking Bad” type story. See below how he tamed his wild beast of a life. Be prepared for drugs, fighting, trains, money, strippers and self growth, when others had no hope.


I’m a Texas boy who was born into a life of partying. My Dad was an aspiring rockstar singer. Both my Mom and Dad were druggies and drunks. I was raised in a constant party. I was young when they split, so I moved around a lot. My Dad would offer me beer and let me party. My Mom would do drugs in front of me and then tell me not to be like her. One grandmother was a strict Christian lady. The other would let me do what I wanted.


I started really leaning toward the thug life at 13. I experimented with drugs, drank alcohol, partied and joined a gang. I loved to fight. I had older buddies that would sic me on people. I’d just see them and go fight them. I didn’t care. 

When I was 14 I dropped out of school for the first time. I spent all day getting high at my grandma’s. I started robbing mailboxes at night. Before long I was stealing Playstations from Walmart, shoes and shirts from Belk and later even guns and cars. I eventually got into trouble and was moved from a small Texas town, to the big city of Austin, Texas, where I was put into a foster home and enrolled back into school. Here I met some local skaters who smoked pot, so I naturally made the switch from gangster to skater. I was BAD. I got into so many fights at school that they tried to send me to CYC, which is juvenile prison. I said fu** that and ran away from my foster home.


I lived on the streets for a month and started hopping trains. On my 16th birthday I was hopping a train on the way to Vegas with some street kids. I slipped and fell under the train. It caught my arm and I had to wait for the train to pass before I could get up. My arm was gone. Luckily, there was highway running parallel to the train tracks. I staggered from the tracks to the road and tried to flag down cars. No one would stop. I ended up walking in front of an 18-wheeler, basically ready to end my life. The 18-wheeler missed me, stopped and called 911. From there I went back to Austin, where I was hospitalized. Great birthday, eh?

This is where I started really doing drugs. I had Vicodin from the hospital and I would save them up and take a bunch at a time. On top of that, I started smoking pot again. I bounced around a few foster homes. By this time, I was 17. I eventually got kicked out of my foster home and probation for weed. They said, “Let him go. He’s an adult now. He’s not going to make it anyway.” After that I felt a sense of power. I was now an adult and could now do what I wanted. I moved back to Austin, where I stayed with my mom. 

Mom had since started using and selling crack cocaine, while also pimping women. We rode the streets in brand new vehicles and stayed in high class hotels. I was selling crack and pimping women with and for my mom. She showed me all this money and got me hyped about it! She got caught only one month after I moved in. I had nothing. So… I did what I knew. I did what my mom showed me. Drugs…

I started going to raves where I could use and deal ecstasy. I found I could make money and get high for free. Also, people liked me because I had dough. I moved in with a stripper shortly after who had a big house. I didn’t have much of a choice, she made a $1000 a night and would give me all the money I wanted for drugs. There were 50 people in our house at all times. Everyone thought they could make money at my house. But everyone was selling, so no one made a lot of money, everyone would just got high on everything.


I was caught with ecstasy at a rave when I was 18. This was my first drug possession charge. I was bonded out and caught with meth less than a month later. They sent me to criminal rehab, where I ended up escaping from the facility and getting caught later. This would be my first time in prison.

It was a big surprise, but I had a bigger surprise on the way… One of my girlfriends claimed she was pregnant with my child and gave birth while I was in prison. I missed it, but she would send pictures and visit with my son. I looked forward to getting out and being a father. I started writing rap to keep me occupied until I got out. I was pretty dang good! My mother sobered up and started a concrete business during this time. I made parole after only a year.


The mother of my child and I quickly learned our relationship wouldn’t work. We had a paternity test done when she started asking for child support. Turns out the boy wasn’t even mine. This was a big blow.

I turned back to drugs. For the next year all I did was meth and rap. I got recognized by a producer at a freestyle rap battle. He hooked me up with a manager and the manager started paying for my studio time. I found out I could write better songs when I was on meth. I started performing live and rapping about the life I was living. Life was pretty good. Rapping was fun, but it wasn’t paying the bills… so I decided to get back into the drug game. By this time I felt I was better at it. I felt I could run it without a problem. I did do better, but the game was short lived. I got caught with cocaine.

I went back to prison for another year at 24 and then again met parole.


I felt serious about recovering this time and made a few positive steps. I was in a program and even had a sponsor to help guide me. I did good for while… but slowly realized I had more partying to do. I was in an illusion that if I could just manage the hustle better, I could make it in the drug game. I started getting high and hustling again. This time I was on top of my game. I learned how to hide and stay away from high risk drugs. I kept to high-grade marijuana and LSD. I had some close calls, but didn’t get caught. I did a lot better. I was dealing at a high level. I had the cars, girls and place.

Around the age of 28, I was just smoking pot and drinking. The hard drugs were getting to me and I couldn’t handle them well anymore. I was calming down and dealing at a high level. I was making a comfortable $200k a year and looked to grow into the millions. Life was good until 2010, when I landed my 3rd DWI. I bonded myself out of prison and this time got a lawyer. From the age of 25-29, I had successfully dealt drugs, but now I was looking at a habitual charge. A habitual charge means 25-99 years in prison. My streak was over.


I planned to skip court and go to California where I would make $400 a day trimming weed plants. Luckily, my mom talked me into rehab instead. She had done it and was doing great. The rehab was a steep $10k a month, for 4 months. I put up some of my own money and got a scholarship for the rest. I took a blind leap of faith and went. I was determined. No one had faith in me. My lawyer said, “You will be wasting your money and time.” This motivated me, I was out to prove them wrong in a different type of fight. I went and finished rehab. During this rehab I met two amazing things, God and truth.

I called my lawyer once I got out of rehab. I told him that before rehab I had a problem and didn’t know it, but now I had the solution. God and truth. He said, ”right that stuff down, because that might work.” I had people write lots of letters to the judge and had 30 people show up for my court date. I brought a lot of power to the courtroom. My strategy worked, the judge only gave me 10 years of probation. I had a new chance.

This is where the turn really happened. I was grateful to be able to stay free! I realized I wanted to do something good with my life! I have now been sober for 3 years. Drugs are no longer a problem. I’ve found that I love fitness. I started working out and getting great results, this led to recognition. I started training people and realized this is what I want to do with my life. I want to be a trainer, train athletes, compete as a bodybuilder, own my own gym and start a family. I’m currently working in specialty concrete and gaining financial stability. I’m focused and excited for the future.


My message to everyone is to not let anything stop you from getting what you want. Expect failure, own failure, accept failure. Failure is your best friend. People need to realize that failure is an awesome thing. Thats how you move forward. Also, keep a good attitude no matter what, even if you are pretending, because attitude affects everything around you. – Dylan Harryman

Dylan is a phenomenal guy. He’s currently inspiring many people through fitness and wisdom. One notable guy is a Chinese kid who only has one arm. The kid is a runner and is sponsored by Reebok. He reached out to Dylan when he wasn’t making the gains he wanted. After following Dylan’s advice, he has since made tremendous improvement. Follow Dylan on Instagram: @dee_fitnessman & Facebook: here for daily motivation and fitness wisdom.

Update 5-31-15:

Since this story released in August 2014, Dylan has competed in his first bodybuilding competition, the Texas Shredder. He was and is on probation for his past, meaning he couldn’t drive during preparation. During preparation for the show, Dylan would get a ride to work (doing specialty concrete, a physically hard job), get off after a long day, catch a ride home, eat, walk to the bus stop, ride the bus 1 hour to the gym, train for 1.5 hours, ride it an hour back home and do it all over the next day. Not only does he overcome having one arm, he overcomes the consequences of his past by pushing forward and doing whatever it takes to rise. Dylan has gained permission to drive since the competition, which means he’s double dangerous on the bodybuilding stage. Watch out for his next competition in October…

Follow Dylan on Instagram