JACKSON, Miss.- Well known rapper, T.I., was awarded the key to the City of Jackson for his dedication to youth and young adults Wednesday.
Mayor Tony Yarber said, “There was a lot said about this key, but what we’re doing here today is a message that should speak to all of us. The only reason that I’m mayor is because I didn’t get caught. The only reason a lot of us are here today is because you didn’t get caught or because there was grace enough for you to make it out of something. At the end of the day it’s not about grown folk, it’s about the young people who he impacted today.”
City officials said T.I. dedicates his time to youth and young adults to become positive influences. He’s been encouraging young people not to make the same mistakes he made.
“I can’t really change everyone’s opinion of me, but I can change me.” T.I. said, “Just knowing I can use my experiences, my past, good and bad to help assist the future of children, teenagers, young adults and the grown people who may have gone through the same things lies hope, there lies inspiration.”
Before the Wednesday evening ceremony at City Hall, T.I. spoke to students in the Jackson area about the importance of staying in school. He said fame, money and all those materialistic things don’t matter. An education matters and that’s what leads to having a better life and nice things.
T.I. was introduced by Hinds County Sheriff Tyrone Lewis, who told students they were looking at a stage full of people who have achieved success in life, like Police Chief Lee Vance and Mayor Tony Yarber.
T.I., a musician, record producer and actor from Atlanta, has been jailed over the years for having guns and drug charges.
City officials said because T.I. is a convicted felon and has changed his life around, he can get his message out to young people better than anyone else. His message registers with the youth because many of them can relate to him.