Georgia Man Defies Odds, Becomes First Lawyer in Family Despite Teacher’s Doubts

Ray Curtis Petty Jr

Meet Ray Curtis Petty Jr., a native of Albany, Georgia, who defied the odds to become the first lawyer in his family, overcoming skepticism and barriers along the way!

His journey, marked by perseverance and determination, has captured hearts worldwide after a viral video showcased his mother’s emotional reaction to his bar exam success.

Petty’s path to legal success was far from easy. Despite facing doubts, including suggestions from teachers that he belonged in special education classes, Petty pursued higher education.

He obtained his first degree from Albany State University but encountered discrimination when applying to law schools. Finally admitted to Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School, Petty excelled, ultimately being elected President of the Student Bar Association.

Balancing his studies with a role as a paralegal in the United States Air Force Reserves, Petty encountered personal tragedy in 2020 with the loss of his sister to sickle cell anemia.

Despite this devastating blow, he persevered, completing his final semester with five classes while fulfilling his military obligations.

Though initially failing the bar exam, Petty refused to be deterred, rededicating himself to his studies. His resilience paid off when he received news of passing the exam on his second attempt, bringing immense joy to him and his family.

Reflecting on his journey, Petty credits his family’s unwavering support for his success and hopes to inspire others with his story.

“I want to be a pillar in my community, no matter where God may lead me, and I want to be able to do the will of God and I want to be able to serve his people. It’s not about me at all, just being in this profession; this is a profession of servitude,” Petty shared with WALB.