"When I look back at where I come from, if it was a picture that I could show you, it would almost bring you to tears how poor we were," Taylor said. "If it weren't for him, there's no telling where I would have been.
"That was a turning point in Jermain's life. He had been somewhere where he had never been before. I didn't realize it at the time that one of Jermain's dreams was to travel. So when we traveled to other states he came to understand that boxing was something that could make his dream come true."
Nelson's life in some ways paralleled Taylor's. When Nelson first began training fighters he was as ignorant about boxing as Taylor was about life. Not only did Nelson take the road less traveled, he had no clue where it was going.
"When I was a kid, I wanted to play basketball. But I was short. The coach told me I wasn't big enough to be on the team, so I decided to do something where I didn't need a team -- fight," Nelson said. "I got into fighting just so I could whip every player on that basketball team."
Nelson never had an amateur career, but "just picked things up," he says. The leap from that inauspicious beginning to becoming a world class trainer was due in no small part to luck.
"My nephew Christopher Nelson wanted to box, so I took him to this gym run by Don Lowrie on East Fourth Street. Lowrie told me he wanted me to stay with him and be his assistant. I told him I didn't know nothing about boxing. But he said don't worry, he would teach me. I stayed with him in that old gas station for three years and then Don just retired and gave me the gym," Nelson said.
As part of Taylor's education about life, Nelson felt it was not enough for his boxer just to see other states. He needed to make a shorter trip -to the other side of town.
"I had my own bricklaying business. After work I would go pick up Jermain and take him to the gym because it was on my way. But then his family moved 20 miles from the gym and I had to drive there and take him to the gym and back, which took a lot of time," Nelson said.
Because of the distance, when Nelson came home from tournaments with Taylor he let him stay overnight at his house. It was an enlightening experience for young Taylor.
"He got along real well with my four boys. It helped Jermain to become the person he is today because he got to see a different part of life at my house. His side of town was infected with gangs. I had a three-bedroom home in a country club town," Nelson said.
As a bricklayer, Nelson earned a good living, but at one point he wanted more money in order to get rid of his 1976 vintage truck and buy a new one. That sparked a crisis between Nelson and Taylor that would prove to be turning point in both their lives.
"I told Jermain I was going to close the gym for the summer so I could work more and earn extra money. He said, 'If you do, I'm going to get in trouble.' So what I did was stop training all my other kids and just spent time with Jermain. I planned on working him so hard he would quit and then I could do more bricklaying. But I discovered there was no quit in him. He kept coming back. So I said to Jermain, 'I won't shut the gym for the summer because you are going to be a millionaire someday, and all I can earn is thousands. What is good for you will be good for me in the long run,'" Nelson said.
More important to Taylor at the time than being a millionaire was that he had found a man that could teach him about life.