Stevenson positively impacting the lives of local youth

Stevenson and the mentors with the My Brothers Second Chance program expose the young men to what they can achieve if they do the right thing.

Stevenson positively impacting the lives of local youth
December 16
13:01 2020

Ensuring the success of the next generation is not just a goal for Antonio Stevenson, it is a way of life. His work with at-risk youth has made a tremendous impact in the community.

Stevenson is attacking the issue of at-risk youth from multiple fronts. He mentors young men through his nonprofit My Brothers Second Chance (MBSC), he trains young athletes while also giving them life lessons, and has written two books to inspire the youth.

With My Brothers Second Chance, Stevenson and other mentors use their past experiences to show young men a better path to pursue, other than a life in the streets. He gives a lot of credit to his board members for advancing the nonprofit to the level it has reached.

“We do team building and focus on anger management skills and the main thing we do is what I call hard core mentoring,” said Stevenson. “The majority of our kids don’t have fathers, so we are the big brothers and the ones they call when things aren’t going smoothly.

“We try to play defense and intercept every opportunity they have to turn back to their own ways.”

Stevenson says he doesn’t want people to think he has “bad kids” in his program. For him, all of the kids are good, they have simply lacked some parenting in certain areas of their lives. He currently has 22 kids in his program, ranging in age from teenagers to young adults.

“100 percent of our kids have amazing mothers; I can’t think of one kid in my program that doesn’t have a loving mother,” Stevenson said about the youth in his program. “They just have a lack of a male role model,”

Stevenson said he enjoys seeing the growth in the young men in his program, especially when they begin to mature and manage each other’s behavior without any of the adults having to say anything.

“It is great to see them mentoring one another now,” he said. “They will tell one another to make sure they have their belt on or say, ‘You know Mr. Stevenson be tripping when you sag, so don’t even get in here with that.’  It was crazy to see kids mentoring each other and we not having to say anything.

“When COVID-19 hit, it put a damper on things, because we are in our phase of trying to get them registered for college. Two of them registered for college anyway and college is not for everyone, so those who graduated that did not register for college are working.”

Stevenson lost his mother earlier this year and she was the reason he founded his nonprofit initially, he said. For the young men in the program to call, text and check on him during one of the darkest moments in his life meant the world to him.

“My mom was the reason I did it at Carver, because I knew there were some more Antonio Stevensons walking the halls at Carver High School,” he said. “I knew there were some kids that just had a mother and would sort of feel around their way in the dark to be men, so everything I was doing was because of my mom. When I lost her, I lost myself for a second, but these kids were calling and texting and it put me in a much better place, and it made me think that what I was doing in their lives was all worth it.”

The training methods used by Stevenson could be categorized as more military style than your traditional weights and cardiovascular equipment.

“It’s rough training and something I would have loved to be involved with when I was a young man,” Stevenson said about his training. “We use battle ropes; we pull tires up hills; it’s tough work.”

Stevenson says he grew up in an era where quitting was not an option. He says a few kids have come out and found the training was too tough for them and walked away after one day. For those who stay, Stevenson says he tries to make sure his guys understand the word finish.

“Whatever you have to do and however deep you have to dig, you do that to finish,” he said. “A lot of times I pull my phone out and let them know they are not quitting in front of me, they are quitting in front of everyone and that’s what life is to me. Life is an amazing workout where you just can’t quit.

“My workouts are total body workouts and people trying to get in shape and I do it with them most of the time.”

His book, “Lessons Learned,” is basically Stevenson’s life story, he said. In the book he talks about his life from middle school through early adulthood. He touches on his humble beginnings, sports, and even being shot.

“Lessons Learned” was about my mom releasing me to people to be mentored and without those who mentored me, I would have been dead a long time ago,” he said. “I put the books out to save lives.”

Stevenson speaks fondly of his high school football coach and other male role models who positively impacted his life. He wants to do the same thing for the young men in his program, along with the young men he trains.

His second book, “The Answer to America’s Crisis,” focuses on the importance of mentoring and how impactful it can be with helping young men stay away from a life in the streets.

“It’s going to take a special group of brothers to sit down in every city, to come up with a plan to get in the middle of these young brothers,” he said. “Most of these young men just want money and are willing to get it by any means necessary. They don’t see themselves successful in school or in their community, so we have to first recreate the vision of love with them. 

“Too many of our young men are killing each other because they have no appreciation for human life. They don’t love each other, because they don’t love themselves.  If we want to help them, we have to go back and show them how to love themselves.”

Stevenson says he was frustrated with the response from the community when he and Sherriff Kimbrough made a call to the community for mentors and only eight people showed up.

“You mean to tell me only eight people want to see Black kids stop dying?” he said. “And half of those eight were women.”

As a means to share his message to a broader audience, Stevenson also records a weekly inspirational video on social media. He enjoys doing the videos because he knows someone needs to hear a positive word, he said.  

For Stevenson, he says it’s important that he shares his past troubles with them to give life lessons about what not to do.  

“As a kid, I thought I was tough and had a problem with a dude and some of his guys jumped me, so when I saw him out by himself, I followed him and I shot at him and I put that in my book,” said Stevenson. “I put that in the book because that one crazy scenario changed my life.

“That next morning I was checking the news on TV and the newspaper and it let me understand I wasn’t a thug, because I didn’t want to go to prison or have that on my chest, so I tell these boys all the time that I know they are tough, but they don’t want to go to prison and give away 10 years of your life just because someone said something to you. I talk to them all the time about being shot and growing up in a house without a father and how I used that for motivation and the reason why I succeed.”

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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