True Story: When I was in the 8th grade, this kid named Arod Sanchez tried to get me to join the Crips, who were starting up a "set" in Creve Coeur. In order to get in I was going to have to rape a woman (which I was looking forward to) and spray paint a building and shoot a few Chinese people.
I was nervous, of course, because at that point in my life I had yet to do any of these things. (I've still never spray painted a building - I mean, that's someone's property!) Being a "man'd of expanding," not unlike my hero at the time, Common, I went to the East Middle School library to research the issue.
It was there that I found a copy of Gangs and Self Esteem by Stanley "Tookie" Williams. In the book, I learned that joining a gang was no way for a young man to gain self esteem. While it's true that I never gained self esteem through any other method, at least I never destroyed any property.
Later that afternoon I visited the computer lab, where a young man named John Stanley showed me how to use the Internets. The rest, as they say, is history.
RIP Stanley "Tookie" Williams, 1954-2005