Convicted murderer spends years in prison then transforms his life to keep Detroit kids out of gangs

DETROIT (WXYZ) - There is no way to sugar coat this. Ray Winans was a murderer, and raised in a thug life.  His parents sold drugs. Most of his life so far has been spent in prison.

When you see how he's changed and what he's doing now for young men destined to go down the same path, it may change you.

We visited Filbert Street on Detroit's east side. The street where Ray Winans was brought up. This is where childhood games have quickly turned deadly and dangerous.

"I was about 13 years old neighborhood friend of mine got murdered over a basketball game right in front of me," said Winans.

"My father was murdered when I was nine so that was my most traumatic experience in life. From age 9-15 I wanted to be a hit man, I wanted to murder the individual that murdered my father, but unfortunately by the time I was 15 I had dropped out of our high school and everything… and ended up taking a man’s life," said Winans.

Winans was in juvenile detention at age 15 for beating to death a man and in a gang. "Dirty Red”, as he was called, would spend 18 years of his life in and out of state and federal prison for drugs and guns. It was the crime he didn't commit that led him to change lives.

"I was faced with a murder I didn't commit, a friend did it. I made a deal with God because I was a non-believer at the time," Winans explains.

"I said, God, you get me out of this and I promise, I will do no more wrong, change my life and other's and be a man of Christ," said Winans. “Two weeks later he (his friend) stepped up to the plate to confess.” 

That's when Winans transformation came. Now, he works tirelessly in his neighborhood to transform young men. He wants them to care about their future.

"You care...NO I mean you gotta care, that's the problem," Winans adds.

The 37-year-old father cares so much. He quit his job and with the help of his wife, created keepingthemalive.org. A non-profit agency that provides options outside of the streets. Winans goes into hardest hit neighborhoods to pull them out. "I look at it like deep sea diving," said Winans.

Catching up on this candid moment between the men who have been there, done that, and the men who are trying to go there. The Gordon twins and their mother have been working with Winans. 

“I look at Ray as like another father figure because he's helped with a lot of things in my life,” says Rayshard Gordon a ‘Keeping Them Alive’ member.

“Ray, he like stay on us to go to class if you want to be an entrepreneur then don't skip,” adds his twin brother Raynard Gordon.

Me and my sons argued a lot. He taught them the value of not arguing with parents, gave them jobs,” said mother of the twins, LaToya Durrett.

“He’s a good man. Take one boy who got 20 problems and turn them into nothing, because my sons had 50. Now they only got like 10,” Durrett adds.

For keeping them alive by going from gang member to good man, Ray Winans is our person of the week.

"They call you a father figure, say you've given them hope, they have goals because of you honestly, I don't. I just give God all the glory and keep it moving,” says Winans.
 

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