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Michael DeLeon

“It can’t happen to me.” Michael DeLeon crushes that mindset when he shares his life story with young people, and urges them to take another path. The ex-convict, former gang member and recovered heroin addict has been speaking to schools and youth groups since 2000, when he founded the non-profit, Steered Straight. Born into a loving home, DeLeon tells students he tried caffeine pills to boost his productivity at a marketing job he loved. He never imagined that decision would lead to a cocaine habit and then near-fatal heroin addiction. His life choices, he says, had tragic fallout: gang involvement and crimes to finance his addictions, the breakup of his marriage and the murder of his mother by other gang members after a drug deal gone bad. DeLeon spent 12 years in prison and halfway houses before reshaping his life in recovery. He’s earned multiple degrees, is a certified substance abuse counselor and has produced four documentaries on the drug epidemic. Over the past two decades, DeLeon has shared his life story with young people in 47 states, encouraging them to make sound choices that enrich their future.

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