He Used To Sell Drugs On The Streets Of Philly, Now He’s Been Given A CNN Hero Award For Changing Lives


Getting nominated for CNN’s Hero of the Year award is a huge honor, whether you win or lose. And for one such Philadelphia resident, Tyrique Glasgow, he was one of the 10 top men and women who were selected to be on the list, although he didn’t get the most votes. Regardless, it doesn’t make what he’s doing any less important than the others he shared that same honor with.

Tyrique grew up in the more dangerous streets of South Philadelphia, where drugs, thugs, dealers and criminals were a dime a dozen. Despite being raised by a hardworking mom and grandmother, when he was just 8-years old, his uncle was murdered and in succeeding years, he lost other friends and family members to shootings that happened too often in the City of Brotherly Love.

At the tender age of 15, Tyrique got caught up in that same rampant and vicious life cycle of dealing drugs, gangs, shooting, and murders that many young men and women end up becoming a part of. Before he knew it, he was running his own drug dealing block, and to his closest friends and family, his life was on the road to destruction, drug use, crime, jail time, and worse, possibly death.

In an interview with CNN, he told them, “When you run a block, like, you are the face. You’re the one who that community of people know. You set rules and boundaries. It’s a dangerous life, but it’s a normal life.”

It seemed like that was going to truly be his “normal life” forever, and like many other young men living in South Philly, things took a turn for the worse. Throughout the course of his young life dealing on the streets, Tyrique would end up getting shot 11 times in different places – is head, back, arms, and legs. And by 2006, he would find himself incarcerated for drug charges, spending the next 5 years of his life behind bars.

While he was in jail, he admitted that he had a change of heart. He told CNN, “I started to see what I was doing wrong. The time-out definitely was needed.”

When he was releases in 2011, he was sent on making positive changes to his life. Upon his return back home, a young local boy asked Tyrique for help with their flag football team, where he eventually took the role of coach.

The now 39-year old explained, “I got tired of my community following me in a negative direction and I wanted them to follow me in a positive direction. The kids really gave me a purpose.”

From there, he began moving forward in his new life, dedicating his time and effort to helping kids in the area. He opened up a community center in a building on Taney Street in South Philadelphia, which is the exact same street and the exact same building he used to use to sell drugs. Except now, it’s a safe haven for kids to come and feel protected, to enjoy afterschool activities, to join summer camps, and just go to get away from all the street violence and drugs that’s still prevalent in the area.


Now, he not only coaches the flag football team, but also the girl’s dance squad, all while running the Young Chances Foundation, which is dedicated to providing young kids and those in low resource families a safe space to grow, thrive, feel safe and just be in the community. In fact, he even managed to renovate a nearby vacant lot that used to be known as a drug stash into a community vegetable garden for the families in the area, aside from supplying other types of food, necessities, and other requirements – such as diapers, clothing, PPEs, and school supplies – to the hundreds of residents in the area every week for free.

He also told CNN, “The same ones that we were giving negative stuff to, now we can give positive resources.”

“It helps reduce poverty, stress, trauma. And when your quality of life is up, the crime goes down,” he added.

The center is open six days a week, where not just the youth, but people looking for addiction treatment, mental health counseling, rental assistance, and even connecting teens to resources to GED classes, as well as tutoring, sports and afterschool care when needed. Moreover, he works closely with the police in the area to make sure that there is more open communication within the neighborhood, providing better insight on local issues and problems within their community.


“Seeing the officers in a different light, it builds trust, and it builds confidence. (The police officers) built that same trust with me. They need to see that all cops aren’t bad,” he shares.

It would seem that everything Glasgow is doing is for the kids, but in reality, he’s helping everyone in his neighborhood. In fact, Philadelphia is known to have a high record of homicides of which at least 90% is caused by guns, but according to the Philadelphia Police Department’s 17th District, in his particular area, gun violence and shootings have gone down, and his foundation is surely one of the reasons why.

He explained that not only does he want his neighbors to live, but he wants them to thrive. Tyrique said, “We’re trying to create a safe haven and environment for the whole neighborhood. We want them to see a brighter day.”


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