"[I] ended up in prison doing time," Howard said.
He is a fitness trainer going through the Community College of Aurora program.
Howard grew up in Five Points and Park Hill. In his 20s, he started dealing drugs until he found himself serving 12 years in prison for cocaine possession.
"And, that's when I decided, I was just like enough is enough," Howard said.
He came to the Community College of Aurora after his release to enroll in the fitness training program run by Dan Agresti.
"Absolutely believe everybody needs a second chance and I said, how can I judge him, look at what he's doing. He's in school," Agresti said.
Agresti is an instructor in the training program.
That's when Howard met Sheets.
"I met Patrick in class, you know, I guess he saw a look on my face, how nervous I was and how confused I looked and everything," Howard said.
Sheets says he felt compelled to help.
"I could tell that he was having trouble and I don't like walking away from situations like that without stepping in and trying to offer some help," Sheets said.
Sheets is a former Army Captain who graduated from West Point. He grew up in a small town in Indiana, a world away from Howard and his problems.
"I saw them as two students helping each other get through class and then that developed into a close friendship which is unlikely because of their backgrounds," Agresti said.
They became close friends. Now they are best friends as Five Points meets West Point.
"I would never have imagined me being a friend of a person from a small town in Indiana, but at the same time, I can't just him from where's he's from," Howard said.
"It's not that bad, really," replied Sheets while laughing.
"He reminds me of the people that I need in my circle every day and all day, you know, so I don't go back to my old ways," Howard said.
Now, the Army Captain and convicted felon are together training police academy cadets.
"It is pretty ironic, isn't it?" Sheets said.
"Like they said at the parole office, this is a very unusual situation," Howard said.
The cadets like Andrew Menger did not know their instructor used to be in prison.
"It is shocking, but at the same time, I mean, you could just see from his character that he's probably come a long, long way," Menger said.
"I'm real proud of myself," Howard said. "Every day, I thank God for everything that's been going on in my life. Sometimes I feel like it's a dream after going through some of the things that I've been in."
Howard wants to become a fitness trainer for top caliber, professional athletes. Sheets is working on his doctorate to become a physical therapist. They both say they will remain close friends no matter where their careers take them.
(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)