When Bess speaks at elementary schools in his hometown, kids listen. He graduated from Oakland's Skyline High lettering in three sports, earning a scholarship to Oregon State in football, but that summer of 2003 he picked up some friends and his life would change.
"When I picked them up they put some stuff in my car and we got pulled over 10 minutes later," said Bess.
That "stuff" in his car was stolen property.
"They charged me with everything because I was the driver, so they said I was an accessory, aiding and abetting of residential burglary and possession of stolen property," said Bess.
His friends were willing to tell the district attorney Davone had nothing to do with it, but their public defender wouldn't allow it because they would incriminate themselves.
Bess was only 17 and was sentenced to 15 months.
"They said I was the mastermind of it all," said Bess.
"I was shocked, just stressed, depressed, everything," said Chinell Carpenter, Bess' mother.
Bess was sent to juvenile hall until he turned 18 in September and was then moved to Martinez County jail before he ended up at the Byron Boys' Ranch.
"I had a chance to evaluate myself as a human being and put stuff in perspective," said Bess.
The boys' ranch had a seven-man football team that played local high schools. A recruiter from Hawaii was at one of the games, he knew Bess' High School coach, they all got together, and when Bess was released, he was offered a scholarship to Hawaii.
Not many kids are recruited while serving time.
"It's not a day goes by that I don't remember that. That's what keeps me going," said Bess.
Bess caught a school record 293 passes in his three years at Hawaii.
That earned him a free agent tryout with the Dolphins and 130 NFL catches in his first two years is a franchise record.
Bess hopes his story has a positive impact on the kids he speaks to.
"If I can reach just one of them and let them know they can make it and do whatever they want to, that's the main goal," said Bess.