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Former 'thugs' hope to revitalize Flint

A glimpse inside the world of crime, in one of the most violent cities in the nation. Three men who know first-hand the dangers these streets bring, have returned to their city, hoping to keep others from walking their same path.

Some may argue the city of Flint lies in ruins. The days of flourishing and bustling neighborhoods have disappeared and the violence that has taken over gives the city a black eye.

"It's a damper on the community, but we have to build it back up and put it back to where it's been," says city resident Glam Diva.

Is Flint a lost cause? Or is there a glimmer of light through the darkness?

Meet Timothy Abdul-Matin, Leon El-Alamin, and Roy Fields. Three self-proclaimed former street thugs. They were once a part of the problem here. Now they're fighting the front lines for the solution.

They've created the 3 R's organization, which stands for reform, refine, and rebuild.

They're tackling some of the biggest issues in urban America, violence and crime by using their street knowledge and combined 25 years behind bars to nip the problem.

Leon El-Alamin, formerly Leon Wilson used to fight for what he calls "street fame."

He has the wounds to prove it.

The former street hustler was shot in the head by a couple of guys he thought were his friends, once he finally earned that fame.

He would go on to spend 9 years in prison for gun and drug charges.

"When you're desperate, it'll lead you to do anything, and that's what I think it is," says El-Alamin.

Timothy Abdul-Matin, formerly known as Timothy Miller, also fell into a life of crime.

He spent 10 years behind bars for gun charges and an armed robbery.

While locked up, his mother, grandmother, grandfather and many other family members passed away.

"If you live in the wrong environment, you're going to ultimately adapt to your environment, it's all about adapting and adjusting, whether it's wrong or right, these are the things that's going on, it's just going to happen," says Abdul-Matin.

Roy Fields was a stand-out football player in high school, earning a scholarship to play at Northwood University. But he got mixed up with guns and drugs and ended up in the slammer for six years.

Now back in their community, they insist they're devoted to serving it, using their lives to keep others on the straight and narrow.

So, how can former criminals be so dedicated to solving our crime problem?

"The psychological build of a person now a days is so far gone, it just isn't right, and it ties into the things we see around our neighborhood. It is always going to be hard, but you've got to give yourself that opportunity, and that's 3 R's," says Fields. 

Copyright 2013 WNEM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

Former 'thugs' hope to revitalize Flint

Friday, November 8 2013, 09:32 AM EST

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