Unlikely Heroes: Two Jackson men individually make a difference for area youth

Unlikely Heroes: Two Jackson men individually make a difference for area youth (Image 1)

Have you ever noticed any unlikely heroes? If you look close enough they’re there. While they may not come in a shiny cape, but you might find what you need underneath the scars of a troubled past, or subtle character changes from a lesson learned. We met two men who say they fit that description.

Aiden is a unique character with a set of abilities even more special than his back story. He, along with four other main characters are all the brain child of Andre Carter.

“When I was younger I used to always be into super heroes, but I used to always wonder why they didn’t look like me,” Carter said.

So he took the initiative to create his own superheroes. The unconventional characters are depicted in his Youtube series, that’s soon to be a comic strip. Many of them come from backgrounds similar to inner city children in underprivileged areas across the county. One big difference is that they are doing the right thing and keeping the neighborhoods safe. Carter says his 7-year-old nephew inspired him to make it happen.

“That’s when I started to get into making videos and I said I want to figure out how to make special effects. So I started to learn how to make myself fly and how to make myself hold fire,” Carter explained. “I sent those clips to my nephew and he went crazy.”

So he kept it going and got more serious about it. While he may be a hero to his nephew now, he wasn’t always on the right path.   Even though his mom was a Chicago police officer and his Dad served in the military, they were both extremely busy, and Andre says that free time was spent with the wrong crowd.

‘I got arrested when I was 16 for fleeing and alluding and resisting arrest. Just simple stuff.’ He may call it simple, but that so called simplicity quickly got complicated one night when party turned violent, changing his life forever.

“It was a big fight, a huge fight. There were glass bottles and everything.  Next thing I started to hear, gun shots rang out,” Carter said. When I got away, suddenly my arm felt numb. I looked down and all I saw was blood. I thought I got shot, but I actually had gotten stabbed. The stab wound went so deep that it almost touched my lung.”

Tommie Mabry was also headed down the wrong path,  trying to fit in, he was involved in burglaries, gangs, and was told by a judge he probably wouldn’t make it another 5 years in life.

“It was just the wrong guidance for me. I didn’t have a model to go off of. Things I was doing in the neighborhood, it came from what I thought was accepted,” Mabry said.

Even his love for basketball couldn’t put him on the right path. His turning point came unexpectedly when he was shot on a day he was skipping class.

“If I had only stayed in school that day, I would have never been shot. At that point, I was ranked in the state in basketball, I was doing all the above. I messed that up,” Mabry said. “I had already started to transition into a different mindset, but that really shook me.”

Eventually Tommie did get his life back on track. As an author of two books, a motivational speaker, and entrepreneur he says his purpose became more than he thought it could be. He works to catch kids early who are making the wrong choices.

“Mentality. Changing a child’s mentality is so important. No matter what I do, or anyone else, if you can’t change that child’s mindset, you can’t catch them,” Mabry said. When you see my tattoos and you see the gold teeth that I once had. When you see my history of crimes, society would say I’m a lost hope. When you see the things I’m doing in my own skin, yes I’m an unlikely hero. Now kids around the world look up to me, no matter what I look like. My image is a visual perspective of me, it’s what you see. My character is what I’m committed to.”

Andre also went on to finish high school, and college. From there he went to the military, became a Radio Personality, a photographer, and graphic artist. Now hoping his new series can also reach that same group

These guys say you don’t have to have super powers to make a difference; you just have to care enough to want to see things change.

“I want to be that hero, that unlikely hero for the kids to look up to because I know a lot of kids are being judged. You’ve got a lot of kids that are already being told that you won’t amount to much, you can’t do it. So what I want to be is an inspiration,” Mabry said. “Looking at me, society would have counted me out right away. My tattoos, the way I look, all of that. I am now able to tell those kids they can change too. My outward appearance is just that. It’s my character that makes me who I am. “

Mabry has toured the country speaking the teens about his life experience. He says he hopes to change the courses of as many lives as possible in the process.

While the series is still relatively new, Carter says he wants to have that same impact on someone’s life.

“You don’t have to be like to dope boys in your neighborhood that’s trying to hold you back. You can actually stand up and do something positive. I know the heroes in series have powers, but you don’t have t have super powers. Just tell them, this isn’t what you need to do,” Carter said.

For more information on Tommie Mabry and his new book, “If Tommie can do it, we can do it,” visit his website here.

Andre Carter’s Youtube Series can be found here. You can also follow him on Twitter.

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