Tirrell Thomas was headed down a dangerous path, until one day he was given a gift. He's now giving that same gift to other young people to inspire change.
Thomas is now better known by his stage name, Ti-Real. Growing up in Roseau River First Nation and Altona, the rapper now calls Winnipeg home, and just returned from a tour across western Canada, and northern Manitoba.
He wouldn't have gone on this most recent tour, though, if it wasn't for one man ten years ago.
"I was always looking for love, and trying to impress people, by breaking into houses and stealing from people; I was just trying to show off that way," Thomas says of his teenage years.
"But I went through this whole situation where one guy made a decision to not call the cops on me when I broke into his house." Thomas confessed to the person, and instead of calling the police, the man invited Thomas to work alongside him building a shed.
"So I go to his house the next day, and I'm helping him build a shed. And I'm thinking he's going to beat me up or something, or just get mad at me. Instead, he asked me what I wanted to do after I graduated, and he started encouraging me. I was just like, 'What in the world is happening right now?' He was like, 'I'm not going to call the cops on you. I want you to live a life. This has to change, this is the moment for you.'"
And Thomas' life did change because of that gift of grace and forgiveness. Now he tours to share that gift with other young people like him, as well as encouraging others to be like that gracious man, offering forgiveness and grace.
"I'm thankful for that little act of kindness. It went such a long way, and now we're using this story to impact many other people all around the country. You never know, man. People might need that last chance. That's huge."