KALAMZOO, Mich. -- For decades, Credell Jackson's life was molded on the streets, with no hope, inspiration or guidance. He hit rock bottom but saw a new day and the start of a new life.
Growing up on the north side of Kalamazoo, Credell started selling drugs at the of 14 and was first arrested at the age of 15, a victim, he says, of his environment. He spent the better part of his 20s in and out of jail, and by his 30s he was addicted to the drugs he once sold.
Credell lost everything; he was homeless.
Credell's last time in prison was a wakeup call that would teach him something that forever changed him.
"I looked up some words, and one word stood out the most to me, and that was empathy," he said. "Once I got a firm understanding of that and how my actions didn't only impact me but society and loved ones, I started to redevelop my values."
Once out of prison, Credell enrolled at Kalamazoo Valley Community College. In 2011 he was the speaker at his graduation ceremony. Now in his 40s, Credell is a dad, a grandpa and an entrepreneur. He started his own electronic billboard business.
Credell now hopes to inspire others and encourage them to never give up.
"I just want more people -- more guys, more young men like me, predominantly black men -- to believe in yourself and try to get out of this lifestyle. I know there's a lot of young men on the north side of Kalamazoo and most low income areas of the world that feel society is against them and they don't have any opportunities. I want to say to you, that's a lie. You get a chance to decide on your future, how it develops, how it evolves."
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