• Thomas Bonifield

The Redemption Story of Danny Trejo

The famous character actor recounts in a new memoir how God saved him from prison and a life of addiction and violence.

Danny Trejo poses for a promotional picture in front of Trejo's Coffee and Doughnuts in Southern California. Image: Danny Trejo/Instagram.

With hundreds of credits stretching back into the early 1980s, Danny Trejo is one of Hollywood's favorite tough guys, often playing gangsters and other vicious scoundrels. His characters usually get what they've got coming, so to speak, and he claims he is "the most-killed actor in Hollywood history."


The cover of Danny Trejo's new memoir. Image: Simon & Shuster.

By the grace of God, the 77-year-old California native has been granted mercy in real life, despite a grim beginning. His recently released memoir, Trejo: My Life of Crime, Redemption, and Hollywood, makes clear his art imitates his own early experience.


The actor, who has used his fame to launch several successful restaurants in the Los Angeles area, is a lifetime away from the drug and alcohol addicted violent gang member who was in and out of prison as a teen and young man. Sober for half a century now, Trejo served time in some of America's most notorious detention facilities, including Folsom State Prison and San Quentin, both in California.


In an interview with Fox News about his book, Trejo says everything changed for him in 1968. He went sober and, while still incarcerated, "made a deal with God."

"I said, 'If you let me die with dignity, I'll say your name every day. And I'll do whatever I can for my fellow inmate.' I never thought I was getting out of prison. And God let me out of prison. I got out on Aug. 23, 1969. I have to say that with God, nothing can hurt you. Anything is possible. Without God, you're dead. And I know I would be without the faith I have."

Christian Film Blog has read excerpts of the memoir and, though ultimately uplifting and redemptive, it is rough: full of violence, substance abuse and some very salty language. Trejo's unvarnished presentation of the pre-salvation phase of his life and its contrast against the man he later became, however, may well be the shining light that points to the amazingly transformative nature of the redemption available only in Christ.

"I wake up every morning and say, 'Dear heavenly Father, please let me help whoever I can for my fellow man. And I'll say your name every day and I'll do whatever I can."

Trejo: My Life of Crime, Redemption, and Hollywood is already a best seller on Amazon in several categories and you can find it there via this link. The book, co-written with fellow actor Donal Logue, is published by Simon & Shuster and available in both English and Spanish.