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City Council honors actor-activist Danny Trejo

LOS ANGELES — Actor Danny Trejo, known for his roles in the “Machete” film series and real-life heroics in helping people find sobriety, was honored Jan. 31 by the Los Angeles City Council.

“Today, Danny has become one of the best-known actors working in film and has continued to give back to the community, still working as a drug counselor for at-risk youth while headlining countless Hollywood films,” said Councilman Gilbert Cedillo, who proposed that the City Council declare Jan. 31 as Danny Trejo Day in Los Angeles. “[He] demonstrates what a commitment to sobriety does and brings to your life.”

Trejo said a commitment to altruism may have kept him on the straight and narrow path toward sobriety while he was incarcerated.

“I love this city. I adore this city,” he said. “In 1968, in Soledad (prison), I promised our lord, `Let me die with dignity. I will say your name every day, and I will do whatever I can for my fellow man.’”

The 75-year-old Echo Park native said giving to others was his promise in return for salvation.

“Just giving. Giving to the city, give to everybody in it,” Trejo said.

During the presentation, Cedillo showed a video narrated by Trejo in which he spoke about confronting drugs and how he redeemed himself after stints in prison, including at San Quentin.

City Councilman Mike Bonin spoke about his own struggles with drug abuse decades ago and said that shortly after becoming sober, he saw Trejo at a recovery meeting and was inspired by his words.

“I’ve seen you speak a few other times since then, and I have heard so many talk about the power of your bearing witness and how important you have been as a mentor and as a guide and as an example,” Bonin said. “On behalf of everyone who’s been touched by your voice or inspired by your example, thank you for walking ahead of us and blazing the trail and clearing the brush on the road that we trudge to happy destiny.”

Trejo’s son Gilbert, one of the actor’s five children, said they witnessed the generosity of their father firsthand when growing up.

“We’ve experienced my father helping people … for most of our lives, at this point,” he said. “Long before he started acting, he was active in the community, and I always saw my dad as a celebrity long before anybody else.”

Adding to his list of good deeds, Trejo helped rescue a baby who was strapped into the child seat of an SUV that collided with another vehicle and overturned last Aug. 7 in the area of Hubbard Street and Jackman Avenue in Sylmar.

Trejo’s film career began when he trained actor Eric Roberts to box in the film “Runaway Train” in 1985, during which time he was given an acting role.

In the 1990s, Trejo started working with director Robert Rodriguez. Their collaborations include “Desperado,” “From Dusk Till Dawn” and “Spy Kids.”

More recently, the actor became a local employer. He started a local taco chain, Trejo’s Tacos, which has seven Los Angeles area locations, and Trejo’s Coffee & Donuts, which is located in Hollywood.

“This city, it’s like alive,” Trejo said. “This city is still beautiful, everything about it.”

Independent Wire Services