RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -Excerpts from the five-page, handwritten letter Michael Vick sent to U.S. District Court Judge Henry E. Hudson from Northern Neck Regional Jail, where he was awaiting sentencing for his guilty plea to dogfighting charges:

``Growing up in Newport News, I was exposed to numerous illegal activities and dogfighting was one of them. I never understood why people (were) arrested for guns and drugs, but never for dogfighting. No one really cared or called the police so I grew up not knowing the severity of the crime. Your Honor, I grew up loving animals and still (do) to this day. I have Paso Fino horses, parrots, fish tanks, and lizards. I take full responsibility for my actions and am ashamed that my actions hurt animals and allowed animals to be hurt and killed.
Your Honor, I am not the bad person or the beast I've been made out to be. I have been talked about and ridiculed on a day to day basis by people who really dont know Michael Vick the human being. They only knew the football player which is unfair. I'm a very humble, soft-spoken, and caring guy. Also kinda shy.''

``This has been painful because my son watches the news and can understand whats going on with his father. He says his friends in school make fun of the situation because we have the same last name.''

``It hurts deeply because jail is no place for me and its hard for me to adjust in here, knowing that I've left my family behind. There's a saying ``when you know better, your supposed to do better.'' Honestly, I wish I had never been involved in dogfighting. As a result, I've lost everything - my good name, job, endorsements, and now my freedom. So, sitting here today I can say I've learned an invaluable lesson.''

``I apologize for the failed drug test. I was suffering from a deep state of depression, and after my father attacked me in the media, I was heartbroken. I expected nothing but support from him; however, he was trying to get money from me and threatened to do a tell-all story on me. Thats no excuse for using marijuana, but I didn't know how to cope with all the difficulties I was facing because it was all new to me. After my father did what he did, I just thought it was all over for me.''

``I PROMISE that I will never again use a single dollar that I have earned for anything but to help people. This situation has shaped my life in more ways than one. Ive learned a valuable lesson and have taken my life into a different direction. I purchased a church for my pastor back in July and ever since, have had a different outlook on life.''

``I pray for a second chance to be back with my family, and show the world the real Michael Vick, (not the person the media has made me out to be).''

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