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.
Ali Gray's son told him he was glad Gray went away to federal prison.
"He said I love you, and I wanted to be just like you, but when you left it gave me an opportunity to see what a different lifestyle was like," said Gray.
Gray, and other men the I-Team spoke with about gun violence in the city of Milwaukee, said children who get into violent behavior are often products of their environment.
Gray tells the I-Team he was a gang member who chose that life.
"I wanted to be a hunter. I wanted to be identified as a gladiator," said Gray. "So like they say you live by the sword, you die by the sword- it's a simple truth that becomes a reality to myself and so many others like me."
Because of how he grew up, Gray was repeatedly told he might not make it.
"When I became 18-years-old, I’d heard so many times, you’re not going to make it to see 18. I made it to see 19, I was grateful and then they said 'well, you ain’t going to make it to see 21' and so when I became 21 and at that point I thought maybe I’d be alright and then somebody said 'you ain't going to make it to see 25' and when I became 25 I was grateful so now they say when you become 40 you done made it past that hump," Gray said.
Gray changed his life in federal prison. While there, he was given the task to write his own obituary.
"I didn't realize I was a dirty rotten dude until I couldn't say anything good about myself. That's when I made the pivot," said Gray.
"I was once a child. And when I was a child, I did childish things. But now I’m a man and I’ve put away my childish things. 16 I’m a business owner. I’m a home owner. I’m a servant of the most high God. And I’m your brother, so I’m with you 100%," he said.