From jail bars to barbells; Gym owner now a mentor

Tampa, Florida -- Rashidi Abdu Gibson knows what it's like to overcome adversity after majorly turning his life around.

Gibson explained his rocky past, and how he made positive changes to better himself, and even the community.

"I kinda rebelled against what my mom was trying to instill in me and went a different route. I was incarcerated for 11 years and 5 months for a drug offense," he said. "I got tired of crashing into the wall and ultimately, I just basically took responsibility for everything I had done in my life and got me to this point..."

Gibson said it all started with a mental adjustment.

"Once I changed my mind set, my reality followed behind it. It just compelled me and motivated me to start trying to make a difference," he said.

Now Gibson is a Tampa gym owner, personal trainer, and mentor to kids who are on the brink of heading down the wrong path. He's been speaking at schools for the last year.

"It just seemed like a natural evolution for me to mentor and just give them a different perspective and give them my background so they could see that anything is possible," said Gibson.

While teaching them to get fit, he also helps them land on the right path to a successful life.

"Even if you can just make an impression with one kid and send them in a totally different direction in life, it's totally worth it," added Gibson.

John Micheal Martinez is one kid who has benefited from hearing Gibson's life story.

"I never had a father. I just felt like I was the man of the house and no one could tell me anything," Martinez told 10 News. "I took my own route. I was in the streets. I was doing bad in school,"

His brother was killed in 2010- a wake-up call for Martinez..."After that I wanted to change my life."

Where would he be today with Gibson's guidance?

"Honestly I think either in jail or dead, 'cause the way I was going was down hill. "

And now, Martinez too helps other children.

"Just to make a difference in a kid's life, it means the world to me. I grew up not having that guidance and now I'm able to guide people- not just kids necessarily. It's an honor," he said.

Such an honor, that Martinez said he has made it his main goal in life.

"Showing kids that just because we go through certain things, doesn't mean that you can't become a better person or succeed in life. You can't dwell on the past. You just got to smile for the future and appreciate the moment."

Follow 10 News Anchor Allison Kropff on twitter @AllisonKropff


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