MILWAUKEE — This is part of a four-part series on Milwaukee shooting survivors who have turned their lives around. See all the stories at TMJ4.com/EndViolenceMKE.
"I was a dude in my own ghetto who thought I knew it all. Now, I’m a young man willing to share my experiences with the youth of our ghettos that they can make it out," explained Jimmy Brown.
Brown grew up at 36th and Center. He said he hadn't seen anything outside the environment he experienced every day.
"It’s so common where we’re from," Brown said about gun violence. "You see it so much you hear about it so much, it never paid a big toll on me. You kind of expect something to happen all the time," he said of gun violence and the death that comes with it.
It's a reality most people can't understand unless they've lived it.
"It’s like why fill out an application at this time in my life when I can get a gun and I know for a fact dude got some money," Brown explained about what drives people choosing violence. "Sometime your intention’s not to kill, your intention is to go and anything might happen in the streets," he said.
Brown wants Milwaukee's kids today to know they can reach for more.
"I try to tell them, look there's a better way of living," he said. "I had a kid, he went and shoveled snow last week, made $140. And he fed his whole family, and he was so happy because he could provide, and I asked him 'What you so happy for?' He said 'because, man, look at my little brother, he's great, he's eating McDonald's," Brown explained.
It's the impact he makes through Running Rebels - a Milwaukee mentoring organization. An impact he knows not all kids will accept.
"In a perfect world I can say 'put the guns down, put the stolies down, do the right thing, raise your family, help your mother,' but that’s not the case," said Brown. "At the end of the day, I’m realistic. I’m going to speak from what I know and what I’ve been through and from what we’ve been through, and where we’re at everybody’s not going to make it, so if you can grab some that’s going to listen to you, you did your job," he said.