Toledo man credits his kids, and Obama election, for turning his life around

TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) "They said I'd be dead or in jail by the time I was 21."

From a life of crime to earning a Ph.D., Dr. Victor Coleman Jr. is encouraging troubled teens to turn their lives around just like he did.

He'll tell you he battled low self-esteem, depression and fear.

He was angry at his parents and blamed everyone for everything he didn't like about his life.

But one day he decided to take accountability and his life changed.

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Coleman shows us his old stomping grounds in central Toledo.

"I used to climb out that window in the middle of the night."

His rebellion as a kid led to multiple arrests, beginning all the way back in the first grade - and continuing through high school.

He enjoyed the fast life.

Stealing his parents' car. Getting into fights. Getting drunk.

He enjoyed the attention he would get when he got in trouble.

"When I got arrested I stole the jumpsuit to show my friends I got arrested."

Thankfully, all his crimes were misdemeanors.

"I tell people all the time - we thought we were gangsters. I've been to Chicago, New York, and I've seen gangsters. We weren't real gangsters. We thought we were."

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In 2008, Victor decided he wanted to be a better man for his children and enrolled in college.

At the same time, a man named Barack Obama was focused on Change as well.

"Seeing a black man make it to the White House - that was inspiring."

Over the next 11 years Victor earned his college degree, later a master's and then a Ph.D.

"I got one and it led to another. And my children were rallying around me. 'Hey dad, you got homework to do'. So it became a family thing."

Playboy Vic completed transformation into Dr. Coleman the same year his son graduated from START High School.

He shares his story about choosing a Ph.D over prison in hopes of inspiring troubled teens.

"You don't own a color, red or blue, or the street you live on. You own you, your name and your last name. Make it into a brand and something great. Be bigger than who I was."

At the age of 39, Dr. Coleman's brand is "Let's Take Flight" - to remind those young people that they have better options.

"I was told I would never read or write, and now I am a published researcher. So we have to take the negative and turn it into a positive."

He's garnered a bit of internet attention prior to talking about his story here. He posted a picture online - a collage of various mugshots, with his graduation photo in the middle - captioned, "Allow me to reintroduce myself... "

You are not your mistakes.

You can always change.

So choose wisely.