Drug Dealer Turns Life Around After Being Shot and Paralyzed

As a part of our "Newark at a Crossroads" series, taped at NJIT, Jonathan Schuppe, journalist and author of “A Chance to Win,” discusses how he was inspired by the life of Rodney Mason, a former drug dealer who turned his life around after being shot and paralyzed. Rodney and Jonathan both join Steve for an informative and inspiring discussion on second chances.

9/29/16 #1898







"Steve Adubato, here at NJIT at the Jim Wise Theatre. It is our honor to introduce two very special guests. We have our good friend Jonathan Schuppe, journalist and author of a compelling book called "A Chance To Win". And here he is with a guy people are meeting for the first time on PBS, Rodney Mason, coach, the Newark Eagles of the Jackie Robinson South Ward Little League. Good to see you guys. Thanks for having us. It's a great story, a compelling story, who is this guy? Now you're a reporter, we've known you from the Star Ledger, your work as a journalist for a long time. Who is this guy? And then I'll let him tell his own version. He's an amazing human being, Rodney Mason, he is somebody who I came to know as a reporter at the Star Ledger on the crime beat. And working on a story in 2005 about a... what the emotional and physical toll of gun violence is, and through a mutual acquaintance, I was introduced to Rodney, and he is a gunshot victim, but that does not define him, and that is what his journey taught me. And what I hope to portray in the book is his journey from gunshot victim and somebody who broke laws to somebody who redeemed himself, and worked to help improve children and improve his neighborhood. So Rodney, you grew up in the South Ward of the City of Newark? Right. Tough neighborhood? Tough Neighborhood. Crime? Crime. Violence? Violence. Drugs all around you? Everything. So you wind up getting shot in a situation that's complicated? Right. Not worth going into? We can go into it. Well the reality is you are in a wheelchair? Right. Cannot walk? Can't walk. You decide you want to be a baseball coach? Right. Of little kids? Right. Why? That was my passion, that was my love. You know, I've been... I started off playing little league baseball in the early 70's, when baseball was real big, and I fell in love with it. It was something that kept me out of trouble, kept me off the streets, and after that I got into coaching, you know, to help the kids in... Hold on, that's not you! Yeah, that's me right there. That's you as a... okay. Yeah, that's me as a kid. You were a real ball player? Right, a real ball player. I took my experience to help the kids in the city of Newark, as far as with baseball, and as far as with life in general..."