FORMER teenage gang leader Charleston White managed to reinvent himself after serving jail time for his juvenile transgressions.
Ever since Charleston walked away from his life of crime, he amassed a sizable social media following due to his YouTube commentary on rap music and other trending headlines.
Who is Charleston White?
Known for sharing stories of his criminal past on social media, Charleston White's online presence has earned a mixed reception from web users.
Some of his biggest controversies were due to his comments regarding George Floyd, the death of late rapper DMX, as well as the deaths of Nipsey Hussle and King Von.
He also made headlines for his feud with Soulja Boy, which saw the two trading jabs over Instagram.
Despite his criminal history and prison stint, Charleston has managed to turn his life around by becoming a motivational speaker and is now "a pillar in his community as well as active in my church".
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He is the founder and CEO of Helping Young People Excel (HYPE), an organization dedicated to educating teens and helping steer them away from turning to crime.
The group has even worked directly with members of one of Texas' largest Hispanic gangs in the town of Fort Worth.
He said: "My story gives hope to those who've lost it. It shows victims and their families that even the worst individuals can change their lives and make a difference in society."
The blogger thanks the "Texas prison system for saving my life," and enrolled in Texas Wesleyan University's Criminal Justice program to obtain his bachelor's degree.
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Now a father-of-two, he travels the country "sharing my knowledge, qualitative experience, and story of redemption in hopes of making a positive impact".
Why was Charleston White sent to jail?
At age 14, White and three friends had shoplifted athletic jackets from a Foot Locker store and a man who confronted them was shot dead in the parking lot.
White told The Texas Tribune: "I was, for all intents and purposes, a murderer.
"I didn't pull the trigger, but I was responsible for the shooting death."
He was one of the first juveniles in Tarrant county to be sentenced for murder under the Texas Determining Sentence law.
White was sent to the Texas Youth Council lockup, and was due to be moved on to an adult facility ahead of his 18th birthday – but "four juvenile correctional officers put their jobs on the line" to plead his case to the judge.
White said: "I've always heard juvenile justice advocates and officials say, 'If I can just reach one kid then I've done my job.' I was that one kid. Job well done."
He was returned to the Giddings State School where he remained until a few months before his 21st birthday.
In 1998, he was released after serving seven years of his sentence and "has never been back to prison".
He explained: "When I got out at 21, from a mental aspect of things, my thinking, the process of my emotions was on a 14-year-old level – I didn’t have the natural progress needed for social skills.
"I didn’t have the experiences that a natural 14-year-old experiences. I didn’t go to high school; I didn’t graduate, so I didn’t have those experiences that you need in society to succeed."
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