BERKELEY, Calif. — Jessi Fernandez joined a street gang at 13. By his 20s, he had been shot at more times than he could count. He got busted for methamphetamine possession and spent time in Los Angeles County jail for carrying a loaded gun. Yet the persistent danger didn’t wash away a street kid’s dream — that he would get rich as a drug kingpin, then turn legit.
Escapist fantasies became harder to embrace by late 2015, when rivals gunned down two of Fernandez’s closest friends in a few months’ time. The second had lived with him like a brother for at least a year, before being shot down not far from their front door in Boyle Heights. Fernandez, then 22, held 20-year-old “Shorty” as he bled on the asphalt, huddled between two cars.
Read the rest of the article, The ‘Un-Becoming’: A former Eastside gang member finds his resurrection tale at UC Berkeley, in The Times.