Ed Nelson remembers walking to his death.
At the time Nelson was in the Bloods with some fellow members of the game when they were tricked and surrounded by an overwhelming number of Crips, their rival gang. A situation in a club nearly escalated to violence outside, but the police arrived. The sergeant of the department wanted nothing to do with the gangs. He held up the colors from one gang and asked if they were really willing to die over a solid-colored flag.
“You want to fight over the dumb stuff?” Nelson remembers the cop saying. “Do it over there where I don’t gotta fill out a police report.”
And so the Crips waited with guns around the corner for Nelson and the seven or eight others he was with. Nelson remembers looking up at the sky and telling God if he gets him out of the situation alive Nelson would give up his current lifestyle. Then, a car drove up on the sidewalk.
It was his aunt. Nelson’s cousin called her, said they were jumped and about to be killed, so she drove over to rescue them.
Nelson had grown up to become quite a bully after being on the receiving end up some bullying growing up. He and his fellow Bloods were out looking for Crips that night, but didn’t predict what they would walk into.
“I’m a prime example of somebody that was bullied,” he said. “We ain’t have internet. I was bullied to my face. I was beat up, jumped, and as I got older and I got strong, I became the bully.”
And so that night when Nelson’s aunt saved him was the last time Nelson lived as a bully.
“I use to rob women, men, children, girls, boys. If you were Spanish, I used to think you were a Latin King, so I’d rob you,” he said. “I didn’t care until the one day when my bullying came into my own face.”
Since then Nelson has turned things around. He’s a part of the step group called the P.L.A.Y.E.R.S. Club Entertainment that started in the Bronx. The Players stands for Participating in the Lives Among Youth to Educate and Restore Society. They’ve performed at the White House, and along with Alicia Keys, Trey Songz and more.
But what Nelson said they enjoy doing more than that is when they go around the schools to talk to students about bullying as they did Thursday morning at .
Nelson told his story to a packed auditorium of students during an assembly concluding the school’s three-week anti-bullying campaign.
“This anti-bullying campaign was not in response to anything bad that happened here, but it’s in response to what’s happening on a national level,” said Principal Mitchell Combs. “So we’re here to educate all of you so that you can go out into the world and stop any bad thing from happening.”
The assembly was run by Franco Rosado, the CEO of Deep Sea Innertainment and a youth empowerment specialist. There were a few step and dance performances and Rosado also spoke to the students about his own life and about how manage doing something you love with being successful.
He also spoke about bullying.
“Love is the most powerful thing. For someone to look at someone that’s different than them and make fun of them, that’s not love. That’s hate,” he said. “So we need to love the difference that’s in this room. If I’m different than you, love me. Because you’re different, I want to get to know that difference. I love it. When you’re in college, when I was at UCLA, it was amazing the different friends I met.”