Overtown coaches lead students by example

(WSVN) - When it comes to teaching kids about life, using your mistakes as an example of what not to do can really hit home. That’s what two coaches are doing in Miami’s Overtown neighborhood — and as 7’s Craig Stevens reports — kids are listening.

It’s little league football … and Coach Shanton Crummie is getting the Overtown Tornadoes ready for the final games of the season.

Coach Crummie has volunteered in the neighborhood for 18 years teaching football skills and life lessons he learned the hard way.

Shanton Crummie, football coach: “I went to jail maybe about six or seven times. My mom was a single parent. I growed up in the projects right across the street.”

He says he started selling crack cocaine to make ends meet.

Shanton Crummie: “I sold drugs to support my family — to support me. I went to jail, I never went to prison.”

David Miller, track coach: “We got a lot of young kids gang banging.”

David Miller did go to prison several times … spending a total of almost 20 years behind bars for a variety of offenses, like armed robbery, drug trafficking and possession.

David Miller, track coach: “I wish I wouldn’t of did it because now I have a bad record. Everywhere I go, everybody ask me about a background check and it’s like … it’s not good.”

It’s off season now, but in January he’ll start his third year as assistant coach with the Overtown Tornadoes track team.

He tells his story whenever he can — hoping kids will listen.

David Miller: “I’ve been five times to prison, not just jail. And it’s like … it’s a wake up call. If it’s 10 of them pick up what I’m saying, that would be great. If all of them listen, that would be even better.”

Single parent homes, police records and hard times are difficult to talk about … but these men are brutally honest for the good of the kids.

Shanton Crummie: “My mom had to put up some money for me to get out of jail. When she started crying, I started crying. I don’t want these guys to go through that.”

And his words are making an impression.

Akin Liverpool, football player: “I’m learning that you shouldn’t go with the wrong crowds of people.”

Akin hopes football — and the lessons learned from Coach Crummie will help him get to college.

Akin Liverpool: “Growing up in bad neighborhoods like Overtown and Liberty City — it’s like your father’s not around, but you have coaches who’s your father figure and helps you in life.”

Leonardo Temple, football player: “I think most of the time all of us are listening and taking notes in our mind for what to do and what not to do.”

The message is simple: stay out of trouble and in school.

David Miller: “It’s like everywhere you go, the first thing they ask is, ‘Do you have a high school diploma?’ And I feel bad ’cause it’s like, I say no.”

They hope that by sharing their failures, these kids will be inspired to succeed.

David Miller: “It’s not how you start, but how you finish your life.”

Both coaches say they will continue to talk to kids and volunteer for football and track in the years to come.

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