A life of crime with a gang put him in and out of jail since he was 10, so DeShannon Grady, 30, is turning a new leaf. His first mission: To make sure young kids don't get caught up in the wrongdoing that he was involved in at their age.
"I give them insight from the type of dilemmas I've been through and some kids take heed and want to listen," says Grady."
It's a part of his work for Youth Foundation in Memphis. But for some teens, their "too cool" mentality sends the message in one ear and out the other. So Youth Foundation makes it one-on-one.
"It's a big thing about them being around other kids, and really deep down inside the kid want to change but he can't express that around a big group or his peers or his friends," says Thomas Norphlet, Founder and Executive Administrator for Youth Foundation.
Mentors say these personal talks lead to surprising reasons for kids running away and getting swept up in wrongdoing.
"They'll say, ‘Ms. Johnson, my friend she's being abused. Her stepdad is doing, her daddy's doing….' You know. So I just got to give them a way out," says Deloris Johnson, Co-Pastor at Restoration Outreach Ministries, "We try to reach the kids with the abuse part because if we can get them to tell about the abuse part that's going on at home then we can stop them from running away."
Norphlet says oftentimes the kids tell him that they turn to crime, particularly stealing, in order to provide for their families who may have not had a decent meal in days.
But Grady says a life of crime on the street will not help families; only hurt them.
"Time's still going even though you're incarcerated, and I missed out on a lot of family events, a lot of my kids' lives. I got three different kids," says Grady.
WHBQ-TV | Fox 13
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