Probation program turns South LA teens lives around

LOS ANGELES - Brotherhood Crusade, an organization that works to empower young men in hopes of uplifting the entire community...

LOS ANGELES – Lazarrius Taylor had been shot and arrested by the time he was 14 years old. Motivated by a desire to make his grandmother proud, and with the mentoring of The Brotherhood Crusade, Taylor now has a bright future.

Taylor remembers the moment that changed him: he was 14 years old and being arrested not far from the apartment he lived in with his grandmother, Velma Ellington.

Ellington was walking down the street in the direction of the police cars when she saw her grandson and just shook her head.

“She completely messed me up when she shook her head because I want my grandmother to be proud of me,” Taylor said. “I want her to be able to look at me and say my grandson … is positive.”

Taylor’s grandmother remembers that night, too.

“He said, ‘I was so stupid.’ And I told him, ‘Don’t be stupid. You know right from wrong,'” Ellington recalled.

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Taylor grew up in South Los Angeles. Ellington said there, the wrong path is just one step away and “you got to be a strong, strong person to stay on the….right path.”

From a young age, Talyor had challenges. His mom died when he was 7 years old. His dad “disappeared” and his older brother was in jail.

“It was broken, my home was broken,” Taylor said.

Taylor went to live with Ellington, but he said he needed a father figure. So, he “went to the streets” to try and find one, he said.

He began hanging out with gang members, and said he felt accepted.

“I always thought…I would get the help. Somebody would motivate me, but it was only motivation to do wrong,” he said.

Then the real trouble started.

One night Taylor was hanging out on the streets late. He knew he should be in, and his grandmother had told him to come home.

He had basketball game the next day, and he knew he needed a good night’s sleep. His incarcerated brother had warned him just days earlier about the dangers of hanging out late at night. But still, he wanted to hang out with his “real friends.”

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