Hi everyone my name is Raheem & I’m going to share a story about how I made something out of myself despite growing up in the environment I grew up in. So I grew up in Compton with my younger brother and we were raised by our mom. Our dad wasn’t around too much because he was in & out of jail so mom basically raised us by herself. I was the oldest so I pretty much had to be a father figure to my little brother. My mom worked three jobs to support us & pay the bills. I remember wishing I was old enough to work but no one would hire me because of my age. I was 11 around this time. I watched my mom struggle but she always kept a positive attitude & kept her faith that everything would get better. Since I wasn’t old enough to work legally I came up with another idea to make extra money for my family. Growing up I wasn’t much into sports or physical activity but I was really good at drawing so at school anytime we had gym class I would always think of a way to ditch the class & spend that time drawing. Sometimes I would fake like I was sick or fake an injury the teacher could tell I was lying so she would just dismiss me anyway. Well one day the gym teacher asked me why I didn’t like gym class & she found it odd because that was every kids favorite class & I told her I don’t know why it’s just not my thing I considered myself an artist so I showed her some of the work I would draw instead of participating in gym. When she saw the drawings she was amazed!!! She said she thinks I could have a future with art if I stick with it. I remember her showing the drawings to my classmates & they thought they were cool & some of them offered to spend their allowance on some of my drawings. I remember being so happy that I found a way to make money to help out my mom & even some of the staff at my school offered me money to make drawings for them. I started making a good amount of money for an 11 year old and around my school I started being known as Raheem The Artist. Things started going better at home then about a month later my father got out of jail & that’s when I thought things were going to start going bad again. I hated my father growing up. He was very abusive towards my mother but for some reason she couldn’t stop loving him. Not only was he abusive but he was a drug addict & a thief. Well fast forward a couple months later & everything was still good. I thought my father had changed after coming out of jail. He was more caring towards my mother & even got a job at a restaurant. All of a sudden around Christmas he started going back to his old habits. I used some of the money I made from drawing to buy my brother a Christmas gift & I was even able to get something for my mother. Well one day when I came home from school my mom was crying & I didn’t know what was going on. She told me that dad had taken the hinges off the basement door & stole our Christmas gifts & sold them for drugs. I never saw my mom that hurt when my father got back home. She asked him about it & she could tell he was high & he tried to deny it but she knew he was lying. They started arguing & my father got heated & smacked my mother. I decided I had enough of his behavior so I called my uncle & told him what just happened. My uncle (my mom’s brother) came to our house 10 minutes later with a baseball bat & started banging on our door. My dad stepped outside to confront him & my uncle cracked him right in the head with the bat. My mother was still in the house & she called the cops. They arrested my uncle & father & mom finally had enough of my father’s act herself. She packed up all his clothes & burned them. I couldn’t believe she finally left him alone. I guess stealing from her kids was the final straw. The next year I started making more money for my drawings but things started going bad with my little brother Tyrone. My brother took more of dad’s personality so when he was in school he would constantly get into fights. He was more influenced by the negative lifestyle that the city of Compton promoted than I was. I don’t know why my brother was so bad but he loved trouble. He would constantly disrespect teachers at his school & he even started back talking mom. His disrespect started to piss me off so I punched him in the mouth. He tried to fight back but my brother couldn’t fight so he ran upstairs and when he came back downstairs he had a gun in his hand & pointed it at me with tears in his eyes. Mom told him to put the gun down and he listened. She didn’t call the police; she just got rid of the gun. Me & mom couldn’t believe what had happened to my brother. He was really starting to be out of control. I suggested sending him to live with our grandparents but mom thought she could change him because she felt like he was still a good kid. Meanwhile I was still focusing on my future & wanted to continue to work on my talent as an artist. I would try to get my brother into something positive but he was still interested in following the wrong crowd. One night things got worse for my brother when a cop knocked on the door & told my mom my dad was killed on the prison yard. Once my brother got the news he started acting out even more. He eventually got kicked out of school & was in out of juve. While this was going on mom still thought he would change. Fast forward some years later I moved to LA to attend one of the best art schools in California. I was 21 at this time & my brother was 18. Tyrone’s behavior changed a little bit for the better so he did manage to attend high school for a while. I would call home to see how my family was doing & mom would tell me how everything was going. Around the end of 2007 my brother started going back down the wrong path & he joined the bloods. This was the tipping point for mom. She kicked him out the house & he moved in with a girl in the neighborhood named Janet. Around the hood she was known as “slurpee” because of her unique mouth skills. My brother went down the same path as my father with being abusive towards Janet but he wasn’t a drug addict. My brother was in & out of jail for domestic violence, selling drugs, gun charges, violating his probation & he also got into fights with rival gangs. Well one night my brother & a member of the bloods were leaving a basketball court and they were approached by two members of the crips. The crip members immediately started acting aggressively towards them. So the blood member that was with Tyrone reached for his gun & a member of the crips noticed it so he managed to get his gun out first & shot him in the chest. Tyrone also had his gun on him so he managed to knock out the other member with the barrel of his gun. Then a shootout happened between Tyrone & the crip with the gun. Tyrone managed to take cover behind a car & while he was running to find something else to hide behind a bullet hit him in the back the gunman then approached him and fired 4 more shots killing Tyrone. I got a call from my mother at 2 in the morning telling me my brother had been killed & the other member of the bloods had been killed in a shootout. To make things worse Janet told me & my mom she was pregnant with Tyrone’s baby once she found out Tyrone was killed. The shooter was caught two days later and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. So that brings us to this present day. I’m recognized as one of the best artists on the west coast. I have 3 kids of my own now & a very gorgeous wife. I moved my mom in with me & my family. We all live in a beautiful neighborhood in Orange county. As for Janet she & my niece moved to New York where Janet now works as a lawyer. She completely changed her life after Tyrone was murdered & my niece wants to be a lawyer just like her when she grows up. No matter where you’re from or how you grew up you can make something out of yourself. Just have faith in God & keep having a positive mind that you can make it. It doesn’t matter how things look at certain moments just keep working & always believe. Look at me, I went from Compton to Orange county.