MELBOURNE, Fla. (AP) - Best friends Blake Walker and Tristen Gibson had a weird first meeting - he robbed her.
Walker spent three years in prison for robbing Gibson of $198 as she clerked at a Port St. John, Florida, gas station in 2013, according to Florida Today . He used a broken toy gun, saying now that he needed the money because he was a homeless drug addict.
"Are you joking?" she remembers asking him as he pointed the toy pistol at her. Walker knew he looked "like an idiot," but told her, "No, this isn't a joke, dear. I need your money." She handed it over.
He was arrested two weeks later. After his release last year, he moved to his family's farm in Mississippi to start over.
Days later, Gibson contacted Walker on Facebook to chew him out. Anxiety from the robbery had caused her to resume drinking, an addiction she had struggled with for years.
"I said, 'Do you remember me? Because I remember you every day,'" Gibson told the newspaper.
Walker apologized, telling her he was a changed man. Angry, Gibson blocked him. But after a few days, she says she had a hunch Walker was a good person who made a bad choice. She contacted him again to make amends. The first conversations were all on Facebook.
They conversed for hours, learning that both faced addictions but were trying to get better. They became a team to bolster each other's sobriety. They have talked daily since. They still communicate mostly through Facebook messages, with the occasional phone call.
Walker brags that Gibson has been sober for almost 620 days.
"I let her know every day how proud I am of her," he said.
Gibson boasts that Walker has become an amazing person.
"I think we were meant to cross paths," she said. "Our higher power works in mysterious ways."
The two can now laugh about Walker's botched robbery.
"It's funny now," Gibson said. "It wasn't then."