White's New World

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Tallahassee - He can't remember much. But he knows it wasn't a great life, by any means. He was only six years old.

As Isaac White completes a training session in preparation for his next amateur mixed martial arts fight, the memories start flickering back. And Isaac White, by the way, isn't his birth name. It's Turker Ecesoy.

Turker Ecesoy is from Izmir, Turkey, the son of gypsies. Roland White and his late wife adopted the then six-year-old, his older sister and his younger brother after seeing them on the streets.

"The first time I saw him, he was smoking cigarette butts, eating out of garbage cans," said Roland White, who lived in Turkey while on assignment in the Air Force. "We took them home one day and we started interacting with the family and we started taking care of them. And we never took them back. They became a part of the family."

Soon after, Turker legally changed his name to Isaac to feel more American. He says he named himself after his friend. Up until that point, he said he was a street rat.

"I remember stealing bread. I remember stealing fruit. And getting into fights, getting picked on, tortured," Isaac said. "It was just...it was just...all man for himself, basically."

But his new dad changed that life instantly. Six years after finding the kids, he brought the kids to Tallahassee on a humanitarian parole, which means for their own safety.

"It was like a palace," Isaac said. "Coming off the street and living with American parents. It was a dream come true."

Isaac said the social change was smooth, but he had trouble adjusting to the classroom. He dropped out of Lincoln High School during his junior year, fell in love with a girl and then married.

"It was just like, 'oh, we can go ahead and apply for my green card," Isaac said.

While applying for American citizenship, he became a father. He has a four-year old daughter, Harper.

"She's everything to me," he said.

Isaac and his wife separated about two years ago, the same time the 25-year-old started grappling with MMA.

"I always wanted to do it ever since I saw it on TV," Isaac said.

The Gypsy Assassin, a moniker he and his brother coined, has two wins in four career fights, his latest a loss.

"I really don't feel like I gave it that winning effort," he said.

But he's not tapping out. His future plans are to turn pro, open his own gym and break into film production. He's also working on his degree in business management at Tallahassee Community College.

"I feel like being a part of the movie world is gonna kind of like tell my story," he said.

And just surviving that story is a victory for him.

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