PHILADELPHIA, PA (WTXF) - Exposed to violence on a daily basis, too many young people find themselves caught up in the middle of it. But the people Bill Anderson met this week are trying to make a difference. Despite tough upbringings, they say they want to make as many lives better as possible.
"It's like a pattern," Nafis "Fis Banga" Middleton tells FOX 29. "If you're running the streets doing the same things people been doing, you're gonna end up in the same situations: either in jail or dead."
Nafis, 23, had a tough upbringing he describes as having "started with nothing."
"Growing up in North Philly, all I saw was killings," Nafis tells FOX 29. "I've lost a lot of close friends at an early age, family members as well. It was hitting so close to home that I felt like I could've been next."
Nafis knew his life path, at that moment, didn't have a happy ending. He also knew that he wanted to do something that would benefit not just himself.
"I wanted to be positive, put positive things together and form a team where I could get people off the streets and into the positive activities and out of harm's way," he says.
FOX 29's Bill Anderson got to see Nafis' ideas come to fruition in the form of a brand, Started With Nothing.
"I took it upon myself to put this brand together to bring people off the streets, [move] in a positive way and [give] back to the community," he says.
Nafis and the team now run a clothing line, travel to schools to speak to students, give food to the homeless and produce rap with a message of empowerment.
And through this period of business growth and community service, they recognize the impact their actions have on the entire community.
"I sold drugs, I've been locked up thousands of times," team member Zaire explains. "But then I had kids and started to open my eyes that I had to live for them, not just for myself. We think we do things for ourselves, but at the end of the day what we do has an effect on everybody."
As the team told its story, it was preparing to serve the community by feeding the homeless and hungry.
All told, Nafis, Zaire and the entire Started With Nothing team are doing their best to turn their challenging upbringings into inspiration for a better future.