Brother of shooting victim continues to mentor troubled youth

Willie Knighten, Jr. was released from prison in 2009. He has made it his mission to mentor youth in the community (WNWO).

Two 16-year-olds were both involved in separate homicides, just a week apart in Toledo.

One, was a victim and the other was a suspect

"They had their whole life ahead of them, in both circumstances, so that's really concerning," said Lt. Kevan Toney with the Toledo Police Department.

A Happy's Pizza delivery driver was killed after dropping off a pizza last week. Police say a 16-year-old shot her and took off.

That woman's family is now dealing with the aftermath.

"I had to forgive him because the Bible demands forgiveness. I've done wrong in my life and I've asked for forgiveness," stated Willie Knighten, Jr.

Violence among youth, it's something that Sadari Knighten's brother is working hard to see change.

"I would tell them my story, I would tell them all things that I had to do to stay successful and change. I wear the designer glasses. I wear the little bling, sometimes, because they're fascinated with that. But I say, 'you know what young brother? I obtained this legally," said Knighten, Jr.

Willie Knighten, Jr. was once also convicted of murder.

In 1997, he began a jail sentence that would later be cut short.

In 2009, he was released by clemency from Governor Ted Strickland, based on the urging of the judge that convicted him. He said that "more likely than not, he was innocent."

Knighten, Jr. still believes going to prison saved his life.

"I was serious in the street life. I lived this. I believed the lies the streets tell. Streets don't love us. They chew us up and spit us out, so absolutely it was the best thing that happened to me, personally."

Since getting out of jail, Willie, Jr. has made it his life's mission to help mentor troubled youth.

His organization, Good G.A.M.E. Mentoring, LLC, allows him to talk to troubled teens about his story and instill goals, attributes, motivation and ethics into them.

His father, a pastor in Toledo for 33 years, has seen it first hand.

"That's where it all starts, with your mind. If you can get a person to change their mind, their thinking, they can do or accomplish almost anything," said Willie Knighten, Sr.

Knighten, Jr., along with the rest of the community, will honor his late sister at a BBQ at Happy's Pizza this Saturday from 1-4 p.m.

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