Tayshawn Torres' mother is a notorious drug addict, more concerned with getting her next high than she is with his well-being. Due to his squalid appearance, Tayshawn becomes the object of ridicule by neighbourhood kids who give him the nickname 'Animal'. The only person to ever show him the slightest bit of kindness is his older brother, Justice. However, Justice gets taken away, leaving him alone in the streets. Gradually, the layers of the frightened child he had been are stripped away until there is nothing left of Tayshawn and all that remains is Animal.