‘It’d be easy for me to go back to my old life, but I know where that old life leads you. You’re either behind prison bars or six feet underground.’
Terroll Lewis has lived a crazy life. Growing up on Brixton’s Myatt’s Field estate, he was surrounded by gang culture, and like so many other young people, he found it hard to resist the lifestyle. By the time he was 15, he had already joined a gang, been stabbed, shot at, and was selling drugs.
A chance to play professional football offered a way out, but the lure of an easier life – the promise of girls, money, and cars – led him back to South London and the notorious OC, or Organised Crime, gang.
Violence and drug dealing were the norm in OC, but Terroll has long since turned his back on this world, though the association with OC endures through the ink on his skin.
These days Terroll’s giving something back; Block Workout, a street-gym he founded in his old neighbourhood, gives young men an opportunity to follow a different road to the one he took during his adolescence – and the chance to live a better life.
One Chance is a tough read at times due to its content-Terroll Lewis doesn’t sugar coat his involvement in crimes including drug dealing and gang violence but then again, why should he?! The truth is rarely ever pretty and this raw, powerful and honest account validates his ethics as he tries to educate and guide others in his situation either in the past and the future whilst raising awareness in the here and now. It’s a topical subject, giving those who seek to accuse and judge others without looking at the bigger picture a chance to see a young man use his experience to help and support his peers.
One Chance needed its own glossary and I’m glad it was there as I did struggle with some of the language used. Terroll told his story with an easy style, drawing you into his life effortlessly without looking to assign blame or downplay his own responsibility for his actions. The relationship with his grandparents especially tugged at my heartstrings and opened up a very different side to him-they played such a huge part in making him the man he is today. The last few pages brought his life up to the present day and I was left thinking how very proud his family must be of how far he has come especially when it could have been a very different outcome.
An uncomfortable read at times but then life isn’t an easy ride and One Chance delivers a positive message that everyone needs to take onboard.
Terroll Lewis is the founder of the Brixton Street Gym, a charity-based community gym that has gained a huge cult following in the short time it’s been around. He also founded the BlockWorkOut Foundation – the charitable base that supports this amazing gym, making it accessible to everyone regardless of income – and The ManTalk, an online platform that promotes male positivity.
Fitness in the community is one of his biggest passions and has enabled him to become an Ambassador for the Personal Trainer Academy, the largest personal training academy in the UK, which teaches people from all walks of life how to improve their own and other’s lives through fitness.
Terroll had been embroiled in some of the most serious street gang warfare ever seen in London, leading a band of armed and dangerous young men through the streets of the city, a wild time that ended in him being accused of murder. He was eventually acquitted of the crime and proven innocent, but is thankful for his time in prison, as it enabled him to re-evaluate his life and come out a better man, the man he is today.
Many thanks to Mei at Midas for my review copy of One Chance.