As a kid in Chicago, Jemal Gibson could have easily died on account of drugs; instead, they would up saving him.
As part of its current Black History Month series of features, WGN details Gibson's made-for-Hollywood turnaround that included a childhood of neglect by drug-addicted parents, bouncing around to different homes, gang-related violence and the loss of many family members due to drug addiction.
"Nearly everyone in my family, just about, used drugs, sold drugs, went to jail for drugs, died from drugs," Gibson, who now lives in Georgia, said in the broadcast (embedded above).
Gibson says a turning point came for him after reading the book "The Road Less Traveled." Moved by its message of delaying gratification, hope and aspirations, Gibson went on to write his own book, 2010's "Drugs: My Curse My Savior."
With a motivational memoir on bookshelves, WGN's Tonya Francisco — and Gibson's friend from their days at Whitney Young High School ("He even dated my best friend," Francisco said) — learned that her pal's dark past is a far cry from his successful present.
Saying he largely avoided using hard drugs himself, Gibson now pushes drugs — legal ones — as a sales director with AstraZeneca. In an interview, the sometimes-motivational speaker said he most dislikes when people give up.
"I believe you can always make the best of any situation," Gibson said in an interview with Alumni Roundup, a magazine for alumni of historically black colleges and universities. "As they say, things turn out best, for those who make the best of the way things turn out."
Continuing his tour of motivational speaking and book promotion in addition to his day job as a corporate executive, Gibson told WGN his take-away message: "Anything is possible. It really is."