By Harley Nefe
One Lees McRae College alumnus is striving to make a difference and help as many people as possible overcome their everyday challenges.
Over the past two years Darius Malbon has published three books that address deep topics like suicide awareness, finding one’s purpose, and racial unity in order to spark conversations.
“The reality is I know I’m not going to be here forever, so I wanted to make a difference for the world even when I’m not here,” Malbon explained. “I wanted to still be able to make a difference and for people to still be able to change even if I’m not here physically to be able to talk to them. You look at Martin Luther King Jr. and some of these other phenomenal people, and they’re not here today, but because of their impact and legacy, they’re still changing lives for a lot of people. I want to have that type of impact and be able to help people because that’s what we’re here for.”
Darius was born and raised in Hickory and grew up playing various sports such as football, baseball, and track. However, his main sport was basketball as he played point guard for Hickory High School.
During his high school years, Darius was part of conference championships and was fortunate enough to play in the North Carolina 3A State Championship while also being an honors student enrolled in AP and IB programs.
Following high school graduation, Darius received both an academic and athletic scholarship for basketball to attend Lees McRae College, where he was part of record-breaking seasons for the most wins in a season at the time.
Darius graduated from Lees McRae College in 2017 majoring in Sports Administration and minoring in Mathematics.
“It’s crazy because since I have a math minor, I never thought that I would write books because I honestly didn’t like writing or reading,” Malbon said. “But what helped me was I did take a creative writing class in college, and that was the first time in my life where I was like, ‘Woah, if I can write about whatever I want, it’s actually kind of fun.’ I do think that played a part in the sense of me being able to be comfortable enough to write a book.”
Darius described the writing process as smooth as it only took him about three or four months to write each of his books.
Through the promotion of merchandise such as t-shirts, Darius wants to bring awareness to his movement.
“I don’t really do outlines for my books, which is interesting because I’ve always been that way,” Malbon said. “It’s a lot of discipline. I have a little bit of structure in the sense that I’ll have an idea of how many chapters I want, but that’s it. I’ll have an idea of what points I want to focus on, so I’ll write a chapter for each point essentially. Then I set up a timeline, and maybe once a week, for however long I need to do it, I might try to write a chapter if I can. Then the next week I’ll do a chapter, and the next week I’ll do a chapter. So, I stay consistent on that schedule. If you do 12 chapters, you can do that in three months if you stay consistent, and then you just have to go back and edit it.”
All three of his books are self published, which Darius said is the way to go.
“Self publishing is really good just because you have the freedom that you need,” Malbon explained. “I heard that with a lot of publishing companies, they try to control a lot of the content and the look of books and a lot of the logistical side. For me, I didn’t even worry about that. I wanted to have as much freedom as possible.”
He continued, “The key is to make sure people are aware of the books. The first book hit really strong because it was the first book about suicide awareness. The second book was good, but it didn’t hit as quickly as the first book. I think a lot of it had to do with awareness, and so far for my third book, I have had a lot of interest. A lot of people have reached out and said that they are interested and want to buy it. It’s about exposure – getting the word out, and getting people to talk about these topics.”
One way Darius brings awareness and sparks conversations is through promotion of merchandise. He sells a variety of items like hoodies, shirts, hats, bottles, magnets and more.
“My website says it’s a movement,” Malbon said. “That’s essentially what I wanted to do with all of this – make a difference when it comes to suicidal awareness, make a difference when it comes to finding purpose, make a difference when it comes to racial unity. That’s what sparked the interest in writing these books, and it’s all connected to the merchandise as well. Merchandise is really cool because people get a chance to see what people stand for.”
Overall, Darius has a deep connection with mental health, and he volunteers with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Therefore, a portion of the proceeds from his books and merchandise goes towards suicide prevention research.
Apart from his suicide prevention work, Darius’s other passions include finance and travel.
“I’ve always liked helping people,” Malbon said. “Finance is one of those things that they do not teach in school, and I wish they did. I believe everybody deserves their right to know where they are, what kind of life they want to have in the future and how to get there. I believe everybody deserves that. I really like what I do.”
From a financial standpoint, Darius began investing in his early 20s, which allowed him to become debt free at an early age. In addition, he had the opportunity to generate over $4 million in profit for a top company in less than three years.
When it comes to traveling, he has had the opportunities to travel to Africa, Europe, Canada, Mexico, The Caribbean and across the United States.
“Travel is a way for me to learn,” Malbon said. “When I was younger I just went just to go, but as I got older I realized travel is a way to state my perspective and learn about other people and cultures. That’s what I do now when I travel. Obviously, I go to have a good time, but I’m really trying to see things through other people’s eyes that I normally wouldn’t see here in America. It’s been really good. I enjoy it. It’s fun.”
Darius then likes to take all that he has learned and share it with the world. For more information about Darius Malbon and his products, visit his website at https://www.dariusmalbon.com/.
From Darkness to Life: Win the Battle
Over one million people take their own lives each year.
After battling his own suicidal episode in 2016 and losing a friend to suicide in 2018, Darius felt a calling to write and publish his first book titled From Darkness to Life: Win the Battle, which is about suicide awareness.
“Those experiences are what opened up my eyes to what people experience during those times,” Malbon shared. “It took me about eight months to tell my family what I was going through, and then in 2020 with everything going on with all the negativity, the Lord was like, ‘It’s time for you to write a book.’ I’m just glad the Lord was able to use me as a light for other people and to help people get through those dark situations that they go through.”
Darius continued, “We’re here to be a light. It’s hard for a lot of people to see that because the enemy wants to consume the minds of many people and wants to condemn a lot of people and make them feel like they can’t do anything – that’s one reason why a lot of people take their life, but the reality is Christ is light, and Christ does give us gifts and personalities to be able to express ourselves and help make a difference for the Kingdom.”
From Darkness to Life: Win the Battle is a personable, realistic fiction novel taking place in Hickory that centers around a character named Elijah who suffers depressive episodes of his own. He searches for the solution and seems to never be able to find peace. Darius would like for readers to put themselves in Elijah’s shoes to best understand the struggles that he endures.
“It’s a mixture of my personal experiences and other people’s personal experiences and a little bit of fiction,” Malbon said. “There are some true elements in there, and then there’s some that are fiction, but it’s definitely all relatable and very realistic.”
As the book description states, suicide is a darkness that can attack anyone. It does not discriminate against gender, age, race or economic status. What makes it worse is that there isn’t just one cause that creates this darkness. On average, 132 Americans die from suicide each day, and an estimated one million people worldwide die from it each year. It is up to people to speak up about their experiences and direct people to professional help. Remember, one person can help change the trajectory of another person’s life.
“The biggest thing is if somebody has never experienced it, I want people to have a greater understanding to see what is in the mind of somebody going through it,” Malbon said. “And for the people who are struggling, I want the book to be something that they can relate to, and hopefully, they know that they are not alone. That can push them to overcome the obstacles that they’re struggling with.”
While Darius is trying to get the book in the hands of everyone possible, he is really targeting youth.
“In middle school, high school and college, there’s a lot going on,” he explained. “Students are trying to please parents, they are trying to figure out who they are and relationships. They put a lot of pressure on themselves, and there’s a lot of stuff going on, so I really want to focus on youth and help them get through some of those troubles they may be experiencing.”
Darius’s goal is to get one million copies of his book sold.
“The reason why one million is such a big number is because one million people take their lives each year, so that’s why one million is such a big goal for me,” he shared. “If one million people take their lives every year, to be able to get one million books out – that means I impacted one million people and can help them not take their lives.”
From Darkness to Life: Win the Battle was published in June 2021, and Darius said he has received nothing but positive feedback about the book.
“The first book went really well,” Malbon described. “I sold around 100 books within the first couple of weeks, which was great. A lot of people connected with it. A lot of people told me they really dived into exploring those darker depths of their mind and really understood that they were struggling. I had a lot of people say that they had been encouraged, so that was really good. That was the whole point of me writing the book was to encourage people to be honest and get the help that they need. Writing this book was exciting, and just seeing the positive feedback is definitely inspiring and very encouraging.”
Purpose: What is Your Meaning in Life?
One of life’s big questions is what is your purpose?
Around one in two people don’t know their purpose or feel like they don’t have a purpose, which can lead to devastating outcomes, such as people taking their own lives. However, Darius is striving to help others overcome this challenge and find their calling. He enjoys giving knowledge and encouraging others as he desires for people to find their purpose in life and have that eternal peace that everybody searches for.
“The desire for gaining knowledge and learning motivates me to continue to make a difference in this world,” he said.
Despite the success of his first novel, Darius was not expecting to write a second book, but the idea of writing one about purpose popped into his head last winter.
“There’s a lot of correlation when it comes to purpose and mental health,” he explained. “Purpose is very important. Many people have committed suicide because they felt they had no purpose in life. And not only that, but outside mental health, when you do feel like you have a purpose, you’re more productive. You go out, and you do things, and you’re creative, and you give back to the world.”
Darius started writing his second novel titled Purpose: What is Your Meaning in Life? in mid February 2022 and published it in May 2022. Having already been through the writing process before, publishing a book for a second time was a lot easier.
“I believe this book will be a great opportunity for people to find their purpose in life and help seek meaning,” Malbon said.
Similar to the first book, the second one is realistic fiction, and both novels are inspired by true events. There is also a connection between the two.
“As you will see in both of these books, both of the topics are very deep,” Malbon described. “You don’t really hear people talk about suicide awareness a lot. You don’t really hear people talk about purpose a lot, but it’s extremely important because without purpose, what are you going to do?”
Purpose: What is Your Meaning in Life? is a personable book that follows David as he navigates through various life experiences to discover his purpose.
As the book description states, “Finding your purpose is a crucial aspect of life. When someone doesn’t know their purpose, often they can feel hopeless, which can lead to dark situations. Everyone on Earth wants to know what their purpose is in life. We all desire to know it. Finding your purpose can lead to someone else finding theirs.”
The target audience for the book is everybody, as Darius is trying to get copies in the hands of as many people as possible.
“Whether you’re male or female, whether you’re more seasoned or you’re young – I made sure it was an easy read for middle schoolers and potentially elementary school kids because I don’t believe you’re ever too young or too old to find your purpose or get insight if you’re struggling with depression or anything like that,” Malbon said.
So, how does someone find their purpose?
Darius answered, “You really have to look deep within yourself to find your purpose and be willing to be humble, and learn, and change, and adapt.”
He further explained that for him personally, it’s a lot of self reflection.
“I take time out of my day and reflect on my day and reflect on my life and what I like and what I don’t like and really ask myself questions,” Malbon said. “That’s probably one of the biggest things — ask myself questions, and I actually force myself to answer them. So, if I’m not doing something that I feel like I should be doing, or if I’m not as productive as I should be, I ask myself why? Why am I not productive right now? What am I doing? And then in terms of my beliefs, I even ask myself why do I believe in what I believe?”
He continued, “You see a lot of people right now who are very divided in just different aspects of life and different situations. You have a lot of people who complain and get mad and angry, but when you ask them why they believe in what they believe and why they feel the way they feel, they really don’t know. That’s a problem. You should understand why you believe what you believe in and you should know why you feel the way you do because if you don’t understand your emotions, that’s what causes a lot of confusion, and that’s what causes a lot of people to disconnect.”
Overall though, in order to seek your purpose, Darius said it has to be intentional. He encourages everyone to travel when they can, meet new people, and explore life.
“Talk to different people, different races, different demographics, different age groups,” Malbon explained. “Just open your mind and really be observant and just reflect.”
Darius takes inspiration from his favorite basketball player of all time: Kobe Bryant.
Kobe Bryant once said, “Use the world as a library.”
“That just sparked so much interest in me,” Malbon said. “He’s right. Use this world as a library – learn from everybody; learn from every situation. Because of that, I’ve had the desire to learn more and ask myself questions and ask other people questions to gain perspective and self reflect. I’ve realized the way to connect and to be more cohesive with people and overcome all these problems here in the country is to just listen to people and hear them out because a lot of times, we actually agree on the same stuff, it’s just our delivery is completely different.”
As Kobe Bryant left an everlasting impact on Darius and many others, Darius aims to positively influence people, too.
“I believe my purpose is to lead people to Christ and help people be encouraged and help them find their purpose and help them not take their life because life is so precious,” he shared. “Everybody has a purpose, it’s just a matter of them finding it, which I do believe if you actually take the time to find it, you will be able to.”
He continued, “I hope that everyone either finds their purpose or they know the direction on how to find their purpose. I know some people will probably find their purpose through the book, and for some people, it may be one of those things where they read it, it gives them a little bit of motivation, and then they can go find their purpose right after that.”
Racial Bridges: Unify the World
Darius’s third book titled Racial Bridges: Unify the World was published in November 2022, and it dives into how race impacts lives.
“Race is something that has been on my heart for a while,” Malbon explained. “ I believe I am a racial bridge where I can talk about a lot of these conversations with any race, but really the biggest thing that stuck out to me had to do with the 2020 George Floyd situation and just seeing the type of division that was there. And seeing how people had different perspectives about what happened.”
Another event that sparked inspiration to write the book had to do with a personal experience Darius encountered.
“I had a coach in the past, and I grew up with him. I was in the same class as his son, and he actually coached me in several sports, which is nice. He said he loved me as a son; however, when it came to the race conversation, he was hesitant to talk about it.” Malbon described. “I remember specifically bringing it up, so he could understand my perspective on it and understand what it was like to be someone of a different race, and he did not want to have the conversation, but yet he loved me, and that really disappointed me because how can someone say they loved me but not want to talk about a deep conversation that I wanted to have with them? The Lord put it in my heart, and I thought it would be a great opportunity to go ahead and write a book and bring awareness.”
As the book description states, “Race is a concept in America that has been around for centuries. There are many groups of people affected by race whether people want to accept it or not. We all have our differences, but we are more similar than we think. It is a shame that there are people that are fearful of others because of skin tone. Those mindsets cause hatred and division.”
In the personable book, the main character Noah listens to various perspectives from different races. Will he ever be able to understand another perspective besides his own?
“He goes through different perspectives by talking to different people to see if his way is the best way,” Malbon said.
While Darius’s previous books rely heavily on his own personal experiences, this book takes it a step further by spotlighting other’s experiences as well.
“What I like so much about this book is I did interviews with people from different races,” Malbon explained. “This book contains not only white or black, but it also contains Spanish, Asian, Indian, Middle Eastern, and interracial identities. I did research on people across all different races, so it’s not just one perspective, and not only that, but it’s true events. It’s not a book about opinions. These are real experiences that have happened to different people, so I think it’s very eye opening for anybody to be able to read it and be like, ‘I was not aware that this stuff actually happens.’”
Darius’s first book was connected to his own story as it was based on his personal experiences. The second book focused more on conversations Darius has had with different people that he was able to implement into his writing. And now the third book relies on a lot of research and interviews in order to gather information.
“It’s good to talk about these topics because one thing I’ve noticed in life is that most people have problems and don’t fix the problems because they don’t acknowledge them,” Malbon said. “If you acknowledge a problem, you are one step closer to finding a solution. Oftentimes in this world, especially in America, we can fix stuff so easily, but because of pride or procrastination, we don’t want to acknowledge the problem, so we never find a solution to it, and we continue to suffer. We live in a divided world, so having some unity would be beneficial. Many people have lost their identity or potentially committed suicide due to racial conflict. I believe this book will be a light for the world to get on track.”
As for what the future holds, Darius said, “I have no clue. I wouldn’t be opposed to having another book, but it really depends on what the Lord presents to me and what the topic is. The Lord just gives me the insight and the words to write the books, and after I write them, there’s times I’m like, ‘Woah, I didn’t know I could do that.’”
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