His demons nearly cost his his life. But Justin Ford's comeback from substance abuse is now becoming a saving grace for local students.
"Listen up!" shouts Ford in front of an audience of freshman at Detroit's Mumford High School. It's part of a series of speeches aimed to protect those who may fall into a path he knows all too well.
"Rock bottom was me being in jail." said Ford, "Having a felony against me, I acquired eight misdemeanors and a felony within two years. Overdosed and almost died."
The thirty year old's destructive past now fuels a future aimed at keeping young minds from making the same mistakes.
"I went through the same struggles and temptations," said Ford, "It took me down a path that almost took my life."
And it's why Ford speaks to students all around Metro Detroit, giving them a reason to dream.
"You guys are our future leaders," said Ford, "And I wanted you guys to know that there are a lot of people that care about you guys in the city."
"He motivated me by saying that I could do more with myself and by just being real." said Mumford student Desiree Mallory.
"There's a different feel in the room," said Mumford teacher Sabrina Bright, "Especially now that Justin's coming in to work with them because the kids are learning goal setting through him, and they look forward to his visits. And they don't want to disappoint him."
"And every single one of you guys have greatness within you!" said Ford to the audience of students, "Every single one of your guys were created for a purpose and a plan!"
Ford's purpose remains focused on Detroit's youth. The challenge is inspiring others to join his cause.
"I believe that these kids can turn this place around." said Bright, "They are the future. And if we don't get people who see that, who are willing to help us, I can't do it on my own. Justin can't do it on his own. "
"I think it's so important that more people need to rise up and reach out to this generation and the youth, whether it's in the city of Detroit or the suburbs." said Ford, "We never know what a young person is going through. A lot of times, they just need the support, they need somebody behind them to believe in them, so they can be all they were created to be."