He said he was getting As and Bs as he closed in on graduating from Middle Tennessee State University and he was holding down a responsible job at a radiology office. He was planning to get married.
She has an "amazing" two-year-son who, she said, caused her to re-evaluate her life and start volunteering to help others.
But both were sentenced this week to lengthy prison sentences in Federal Court in Chattanooga.
Jacob Barnes must do 12 years and seven months.
Lori Cope has to serve 10 years and seven months.
Both McMinnville residents were involved in a four-year meth conspiracy and furnished large amounts of pseudophedrine to meth cooks, prosecutors said.
Both had a number of supporters in the courtroom, including the fiancee, radiologist and office manager for Barnes.
Judge Sandy Mattice said, though both had seemed to make a turnaround after their meth arrests, he had to take into consideration "the lives you ruined, the families you ruined, the communities you ruined."
Both were subject to sentences as long as 20 years behind bars, but got various credits that brought their ranges down.
Judge Mattice noted that Ms. Cope had served 41 months in federal prison on a previous meth conviction. Then she got back involved in a meth ring within a year of getting out.
Ms. Cope said she has taken a job as a hair stylist and has "been trying to pay back to the community."
She added of her son, "Knowing I am going to be responsible for messing this boy up is a punishment that has no comparison."