How A Former Gang Member Helps Chicago Kids Stay Focused And Stay Out Of Trouble

"If these kids didn't work with me right now, they'd be on somebody's block next to some shooters."

The Chicago area has a gut-wrenching number of murders in 2016 — and it's already surpassed last year's total shootings in the city and its suburbs, which is a sad fact given that it's only October. 

Hoping to make sure kids don't become victims in Chicago is Derek Brown, who, surprisingly, is using boxing to keep kids away from violence, much like the character Dennis "Cutty" Wise did on The Wire.

"I got involved with the gang probably at the age of 12 years old," Brown says. "For a child, the idle mind was like a devil's playground ...There wasn't no youth center for us to go to. There wasn't no grown-ups to tell us right from wrong. There wasn't no one to catch us and help us, like what I'm doing right now. We didn't have this."

"This" is the North Lawndale Boxing League, which is "boxing out negativity" by mentoring kids and teaching them the sport. 

"If these kids didn't work with me right now, they'd be on somebody's block next to some shooters soaking up — because whatever they hear is like a sponge — and this becomes them. And they'd be soaking up all that energy, learning about how to shoot or kill somebody — or running some packs," he says.

Check out the video above to see how Brown is inspiring young people and accomplishing his admirable mission.