I’ve been through a lot in my life I grew up in a massive coach of dysfunction but yet I made it. Gun and gang violence is out­ of­ control where I’m from. I affiliated and got into a lot of trouble but then I changed my ways. You are going to have to get out of that box, that comfort zone if you want to achieve your goals and try new things in order to be successful.

Semaj Clark grew up in the midst of violence, chaos and dysfunction in South Central Los Angeles. He was placed in various foster homes where he was emotionally and physically abused. With no guidance at home, he turned to life on the streets. As a teenager, his participation in two programs—the Brotherhood Crusade and BLOOM—inspired Semaj to get a high school diploma, attend college and engage in self-development. In October 2015, while attending a Juvenile Justice conference on community safety in Savannah, GA, a teenager attempted to rob Semaj and then shot him in the back, leaving Semaj paralyzed from the waist down. After rehabilitation for his spinal cord injury, Semaj returned to Savannah to live, study and help problem solve. His desire to run to the fire instead of away from it motivated him to create his own nonprofit organization, F.I.R.E., which stands for Forgiveness, Introspection, Respect and Education.