MPW.71 / 2019 Being Bobby by Sarahbeth Maney
Photographer
Sarahbeth Maney Martinez, Calif.
Team Chapnick

Story Summary

Sixth-grader Bobby Flynn-Kneff stands almost as tall as his mother at 4-feet and 11-inches. As a sixth-grader he excels in school where his favorite subject is science and plays as a lineman for the Laura Speed Elliot Middle School Pirates football team. The team had their first back-to-back winning streak in two years. 

Bobby’s mother Stacy Flynn, 43, is an ex-felon and recovered drug addict who still faces the repercussions of her non-violent criminal record a decade later. After spending 13 years of her young-adult life in prison, Stacy says giving birth to Bobby, now 11, changed her life path. “We’ve been through it all together,” Stacy said. “He’s my hero.”

Four months ago, the pair moved to Boonville from Riverside County in California where they were unable to find stable housing and resorted to renting rooms, sleeping in their car and living in a tent. Parenting as a single mother, Stacy made the difficult decision to move into the Harvest House, a transitional housing center where Bobby is the only child. As Bobby navigates through childhood in this new environment, Stacy tries to be transparent about her past to teach him right from wrong. “I’m honest with him because he needs to know,” Stacy said. “That’s why we have the relationship we do.”