Tony Pallotto's Story

You may have heard of his work uniting families of troubled teens and adolescents.
This is his story, written in an easy to read book.

About Sidetracked

Drunken parents. A violently abusive father. Absence of adult supervision and guidance. Those factors in Tony Pallotto's upbringing produced a calloused heart and reckless disregard for himself and others.

He could've killed himself. And almost did. He could've killed others. And tried. But an overriding spiritual agenda scuttled those outcomes -- and dispatched the guy Tony angrily tried to kill as an unlikely personal messenger in a land far from where they'd first locked horns.

Later, as an enlightened young man leading the stable, wholesome family life he'd never previously known, moral compromise and corporate prosperity led him down a self-destructive path similar to the one he'd taken as a teen -- one that mimicked the disengaged, dysfunctional parents he'd never wanted to emulate. Finally, when it all came crashing down, Tony was left with nothing but fertile wreckage, combined with newfound humility and bearing. It all led to a redeemed life and purpose that has proved vital to families plagued by the same type of rebellion that once -- no, twice -- defined Tony.

And, it led to peace and hope that endure -- even amid unspeakable family tragedy. These pages unfurl a dynamic saga of car wrecks, dope houses, drug overdoses, death-defying dashes and workplace drama -- all of it incidental to a climax that chronicles souls plucked from the fire and fractured families restored.

How the Book Came About

Tony and I (Brian LaMay) became acquainted working at Southcoast Newspapers, shortly after I took a job as a sportswriter in 1990. We worked in different offices but saw each other occasionally. He lost his job to reorganization in 1995.

I lost track of Tony until 1998, when I was referred to an organization called Teen Adolescent Placement Services after inquiring about help for troubled teens. I was surprised when Tony answered the phone. I had no idea about his new career.

The next time I talked to Tony was in 2001. My family and I had moved from Del Mar to Oceanside and were looking for a new church. I stumbled upon a teen Bible study and saw Tony leading the group. We talked afterward and decided to begin meeting together. Next thing I knew, he was discipling me. We went through "Design for Discipleship," a wonderful curriculum published by The Navigators, a ministry of which he had been a longtime member.

As our friendship blossomed, Tony shared details about his topsy-turvy life. I was amazed at how many amusing, tragic and crazy twists and turns his life had taken. I knew there was an incredibly gripping story there, but it never occurred to me to offer my services as his biographer.

But it eventually occurred to Tony. In 2004, he asked me if I'd write his life story. I agreed. We back-burnered the idea in hopes that our lives would soon settle down a bit.

They didn't. By 2005, Tony's ministry was going gangbusters -- lots of troubled teens out there -- and I was preparing to move to Switzerland. My wife had been offered a great career opportunity. She asked me to pray about quitting my job after 15 years with the newspaper. We prayed, and God said, "Go!"

By fall 2005, I was a stay-at-home dad living in a new land. I had some time to start working on the book, but Tony and I hadn't jotted anything down. We tried some long-distance phone sessions, but our conversations always wound up sidetracked (there's that word). We resolved to wait until I had returned to the States.

Even though I wasn't sure what would wind up in the book, I knew what the book would be about. One day, traveling on a train through Switzerland and Italy in summer 2007, inspiration came calling. It was so strong, I shrugged off the fact that I had no computer. I began penning the preface in longhand on notebook paper.

Six months later, we were back in California. Tony and I began the first of dozens of sessions seated in booths at local restaurants, retracing his life and evaluating content for the book. He began telling stories -- some I'd heard before, some I hadn't. Each time we met, Tony revealed more -- and never failed to flabbergast me with accounts that ran the gamut from zany to melodramatic, from striking to surreal.

Some of those stories didn't make the cut. Others remain with Tony and are unknown to me, after I told him simply to quit sharing them. I had two reasons:

Too many incredible stories might lead readers to the conclusion, "This guy's making up this stuff."

Too many stories means too much writing. I'm a sprinter (suited to pecking out news articles and short stories). I was relieved to have finally finished my first marathon -- and certainly didn't want to write an "ultra."

My laziness notwithstanding, it indeed stretches credulity that a life could be so packed with traumatic drama, sordid soap operettics, slapstick shenanigans and uncanny rendezvous between people with scores to settle and emotions intertwined.

But then, who should expect anything less when Almighty God diverts storylines and circumstances, thereby transcending our efforts to control the show?

God has unlimited buttons to push -- and he always pushes the right ones -- to keep us from ruining things beyond repair. May He always keep pushing them.

About Brian LaMay

Brian LaMay is an award-winning journalist who has worked as a reporter, editor, freelancer and market researcher. More recently, he has worked as an Internet marketing and search engine optimization specialist. His passions include quality time with his family and street evangelism as a member of Wayside Harvesters, Brian and his wife, Jacqui, have six children. They live in Murrieta, CA.


Tony and Brian were recently interviewed on The David Spoon Experience radio show.
Interview begins at about the 34 minute mark. Click here to listen to the podcast.

Click here for a feature story on Tony in Refreshed Magazine.

See Tony's testimony on YouTube.

Social Media

Check us out on Facebook.

See Brian LaMay's tweets on SideTracked.


I'm not much of a reader, but I read Tony's book twice. I read it once, then immediately read it again. I couldn't put it down. I had similar things happen in my life -- drugs, an absent father -- and I related to many of the stories and saw some parallels with my own life. It's amazing to see God's grace in my life, and it was amazing to see how it showed in Tony's life. I think everyone should read it. - Brian Hogan, Deacon, Rushing Wind Ministries/Bikers for Christ

SIDETRACKED is an incredible story about how God powerfully touched and redeemed one man's fractured life. It affirms that God never gives up on us and can even use our mistakes for His purposes and, ultimately, His glory. - Mike Reed, Senior Pastor, Calvary Chapel, Oceanside, CA

Having lived in Wallingford at the time in the beginning of this book, I felt like I was transported back in time. It brought back memories of people and events that I had not thought of in years. The emotions it brought up were very difficult to handle, but made me realize how fortunate I was to have made the choices that I did and survived. I had always admired Tony and Mary Ann for returning to high school when they did. Trust me, in that town it took guts! The rest of the book filled in the blanks of Tony and Mary Ann's life adventure. My admiration for them has only grown. This is a story of lives lost, squandered and wasted. A story of Redemption found, lost and found again., A story of love, loss, courage, forgiveness, unbearable pain and, most important, faith. - Peggy, Amazon, Verified Purchaser

I went to school with Tony and his wife Maryann. Though I've just started reading the book, I know most of his story and it's [a] truly amazing and miraculous one. This is not just for those of us who are local and knew him 'when'. It's for anyone who has lost hope, needs hope or wants to share hope with others. From the abyss of darkness and sometimes horror this is a story of true redemption. We may all have our demons, but we don't have to let them have us. THERE IS A WAY OUT. I'd recommend this book to anyone who's still dealing with their past baggage, to those who believe they are a product of their past, to those who feel they are not redeemable, and to those who want to pass the hope along. - MarionZambory, Amazon Verified Purchaser

I was so blessed by this book. Thank you Tony for your openness to share your life. Some areas I could relate to from my own life and had to take time to process the emotions that came upon me. This is where I say But God....... Only He can deliver us, love us unconditionally and forgive us, and redeem us. I was able to give this book to a relative to read so to not give up on her grandson and to a mother who herself lost her son to a drug overdose. It truly will give you hope for your prodigals and for the power of prayer. J L N, Amazon

This story helped me to understand the depths & lengths that God will go to rescue His children. My faith was strengthened and my prayers for my lost loved ones was reignited. Tim Yzaquirre - Kindle Edition, Amazon

This book is an amazing story of how God loves us no matter what we have done. Total grace from our LORD!!!! Thanks Tony for sharing so much!!!!! Brett Fremmerlid - Kindle Edition, Amazon

A great book a must read for everyone. Lance Coots, Amazon

Order Sidetracked

You can order your copy of Sidetracked from us directly through Paypal.
You need not have a Paypal account to order through Paypal.

California residents:

All other US residents:

Sidetracked is also available at Amazon (paperback and Kindle) or Xulon Press.

Contact Us

See below to get in contact with Tony or Brian.

If you are interested in Tony speaking in a group setting contact Tony at the email below.