My road in life took a while to figure out.
Born and raised in the South Bronx neighborhood of New York.
His parents split up when he was three years old and his father only played a very small part in his life after that—says he was aware of the violence and chaos in his life from a very young age.
Growing up, violence was such an everyday part of his life, he says kids in his neighborhood used to rank each other based on how well they could fight.
When he was 12, he got a spring-loaded knife—says that knife represented freedom in his neighborhood and was an equalizer between him and the tougher guys on the street.
Says the thing that saved him from a life consumed by violence was moving to live with his grandparents on Long Island, New York, when he was a teenager.
Watching crime, drugs, and addiction destroy his community deeply affected him as a young man and inspired his life's work: to find the solutions to help the youth in communities like his.
After college, he was hired at Rheedlen Centers for Children and Families, which would later evolve into the revolutionary Harlem Children’s Zone under his leadership.
He is now a celebrated educator, author, motivational speaker, and educational reform activist dedicated to expanding educational opportunities for all students.
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