Rochester entrepreneur turns rocky past into success story

How a Rochester entrepreneur turned his mess of a past into hope for the community (WHAM  PHOTO)

ROCHESTER -- It took waking up in a prison cell for Jibril Newman to search for his purpose.

"Jibril is kid born in poverty," he said. "Two drug addicted parents, foster care."

At times, Newman's smile was too much to sustain.

"The streets pretty much raised me," Newman said. "I had to oversee my sisters while my mom did what she did and my dad wasn't there."

Selling cocaine was how Newman managed to make ends meet, until he was arrested and charged with intent to distribute in 1998. He was in prison for five years.

"I was thinking, was it worth it?" Newman said.

Newman says jail was one of the best things that happened to him. When he was released, someone dared him to do stand-up comedy. From there, it blossomed into a successful and recognized entertainment company called, "J Real Entertainment."

All summer, Newman has been taking his story on the road to mentor students for the city of Rochester.

"It teaches you how to be responsible," said Kamille Burgess, a student camper of a summer program called Biz Kids.

"I've learned how to successfully run a business," said Nate Schoonover, another camper. "I learned how to talk to people about your business and how to sell yourself."

Newman says he takes pride in turning his mess into a message.

"It wasn't the drugs that I was selling, people were buying me as a product," Newman said. "So I want to let them know that they are the product and they can do anything they want to do."

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