I was an MS-13 gang member. Here's how I got out. | Gerardo Lopez | TEDxMileHigh

  • Published on Aug 29, 2018
  • Gerardo Lopez grew up in gang territory in Los Angeles, California and was just 14 years old when he joined MS-13, the notorious Salvadorian gang. Why did he join and why did he leave? In this courageous talk, Gerardo reveals how we can help others get out and stay out of gangs. Gerardo "Clever" Lopez has worked in gang intervention for over two decades. Formerly of the notorious Los Angeles gang MS-13, Gerardo escaped gang life and now ensures that at-risk youth from making the same mistakes. He is Executive Director of the Denver chapter of Homies Unidos, a nonprofit dedicated to ending violence and promoting peace through gang intervention and prevention. Gerardo is an avid baseball fan waiting for the Dodgers to win the World Series, and the subject of the award-winning, short documentary CLEVER. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at www.ted.com/tedx

Comments • 5 405

  • 2 Petty
    2 Petty Day ago

    All I can think about is key and peele “consequences” video

  • Notorious Ene
    Notorious Ene Day ago

    Ms started because florence wouldn’t allow non mexican members.

  • mistrace
    mistrace Day ago

    ...And then a piano fell on me! ... Consequences !!

  • Robbin Ruben
    Robbin Ruben Day ago

    He needs to be careful because some of those crazy gangsters will probably come after him for leaving the gang and publicly bashing them

  • Tane
    Tane Day ago

    Ted is older than 20 but he still hasn't proven that he can talk

  • garrettsasome888

    I could not keep a straight face through out this lol He reminds me of the gangster key and peele skits

  • X3NoPlayzz
    X3NoPlayzz 2 days ago

    i love this mans voice

  • Ruben Balli
    Ruben Balli 2 days ago

    Wow !!! God bless you brother

    BRYAN MUÑOZ 3 days ago +1

    Alguien de El Salvador? ;)

  • Jessie L
    Jessie L 3 days ago

    much respect. Would love to know how to open a innerchild treatment center in Canada we dont have anything here for our youth please help and guidance and support needed

  • MFUnicornBey
    MFUnicornBey 3 days ago

    I get flashbacks of Eddie Guerrero listening to this guy

  • Sergio Sanchez
    Sergio Sanchez 3 days ago

    Lol I can't take this guy seriously lmao

  • Nolan Kerstetter
    Nolan Kerstetter 3 days ago

    That guy is built

  • Xavier Caso
    Xavier Caso 4 days ago

    if you cant beat em join em

  • XxPro fecyxX
    XxPro fecyxX 4 days ago

    Cowards join gangs, all that other bs is just a cover up. He tries to justify his actions by the way he was treated but you don’t join gangs, you revolutionize, their called, revolutionists. This guys a moron, I don’t know why he even came on Ted...

  • Adrian Creed
    Adrian Creed 4 days ago

    Wonder if he's more of a blood or a crip type person

  • Chickengod Hot
    Chickengod Hot 5 days ago

    This is so inspirational

  • The Lazy Sloth
    The Lazy Sloth 5 days ago

    9:36 Harrison wells

  • Leo Zhang
    Leo Zhang 6 days ago

    based on your story, both your fourth and sixth amendment rights were violated. The right to protection from unlawful seizures and searches and also the right to a speedy trial.

  • emery eady
    emery eady 7 days ago

    i want him to read and sing songs to me when i go to bed

  • Merpy Things
    Merpy Things 7 days ago

    my sister’s initials are MS and she got a visible 13 tattoo. it wasn’t for gang reasons but that is her and her hubby’s anniversary day and her favorite number. some people ask if she’s in MS 13 😂and she’s like oh nooo no no it’s my anniversary day 😂

  • MDUnknown
    MDUnknown 7 days ago


  • readme info
    readme info 7 days ago

    This guy has NO CLUE what he's talking about. Everyone knows the real way... BLOOD IN BLOOD OUT ESE!!!!

  • XY_Slim
    XY_Slim 7 days ago

    one does not simply leave a GanG

  • stephencarlsbad
    stephencarlsbad 7 days ago

    Completely punchable face!!!

  • Sam HansenTV
    Sam HansenTV 7 days ago +1


  • Diciple naz
    Diciple naz 8 days ago +1

    The only thing your missing is Jesus

  • loli desu ne
    loli desu ne 8 days ago

    MS-13 Microsoft 13
    [a trusted Microsoft support partner]
    call **********666 and get your support

  • Heather Walker
    Heather Walker 8 days ago

    Blessed by the transformation of one man's life and how he has gone on to transform the lives of others - blessed further with his insight of what our communities can offer ex-gang members because in our community we are not supportive in the way he describes and so lives/families are destroyed instead of being healed together - thank you Ted for the platform for Gerardo and so many others - silence is a known killer - breaking one's own silence is liberating for the soul!

    • Heather Walker
      Heather Walker 7 days ago

      I didn't hear blame but your comments make me wonder why you did? Because I don't see things the way you do, you feel it necessary to make remarks about me being high or something? Why?
      You are entitled to your opinion as I am to mine.

    • stephencarlsbad
      stephencarlsbad 7 days ago

      You must be high or something. This guy basically blamed you and everyone else who disagrees with him for not being able to get a job and takes zero responsibility for his past behavior.
      Actions have consequences. And thugs like this guy always want to blame someone else and move the goal posts to accommodate their never ending excuses as to why they didn't conform to societies standards. Being poor is no excuse. Most people who came to America started out poor. But they worked hard and didn't make excuses like these ms13 bums!

  • Gabriel Villegas
    Gabriel Villegas 8 days ago +1

    He would have been murdered if he was a legit ms13 lol blood in blood out bro

  • Kriss
    Kriss 8 days ago

    In order to get out of a gang kill the whole gang

  • Monstah Mikey
    Monstah Mikey 8 days ago +1

    Consequences 😂

  • Dana Jessop
    Dana Jessop 8 days ago

    Dude, you're awesome.

  • Lxx Uxn
    Lxx Uxn 8 days ago

    This was so amazing and inspiring, and I just hadddd to say that he is super attractive- not just his looks either but goddamn his determination, passion and the fact that he educated himself and defended himself in court is just s o attractive I can’t even explain it.

  • Ru22eLL
    Ru22eLL 8 days ago +1

    The answer is to not allow in to the first world huge numbers of 3rd world people, with no way of making a living in a modern society.
    How many people did he murder while he was in the gang, or was he just their accountant?

  • Rene Rodriguez
    Rene Rodriguez 8 days ago

    Good job on your success. Live long and prosper.

  • Lucky Pon3
    Lucky Pon3 9 days ago

    Anybody have the link to this guys contact information, I think I could use his help for a dear friend of mine

    • Lucky Pon3
      Lucky Pon3 7 days ago

      +stephencarlsbad Nah, I don't think so

    • stephencarlsbad
      stephencarlsbad 7 days ago

      I wouldn't trust this guy. No one whos out of a gang makes this many excuses. He's probably recruiting "ex-gang members" for some other racket and they just don't know it right away.

  • Roz
    Roz 9 days ago

    That was the Awesome truth hombre. Delivered in just the right way. I feel you; and, I had to applaud your heart felt talk.

  • dripFN
    dripFN 9 days ago

    life changer

  • Shawn Clark
    Shawn Clark 9 days ago +1


  • Spyder Loco
    Spyder Loco 9 days ago

    Tedx13 Talks

  • Lee Dent
    Lee Dent 10 days ago +1


  • Ronnie Alvarez
    Ronnie Alvarez 10 days ago

    This is ain't joke

  • Kawaii Panda
    Kawaii Panda 10 days ago

    I’m Salvadorian and my dad said when he was little him and my uncle would hear planes bombing places close to them they thought it was like fireworks and said they weren’t scared much cuz they were little and didn’t know what was happening lmaoo😂😂😭

  • amandavify
    amandavify 11 days ago

    thanks for your testimony`` someone should force Trump to listen to this, oh wait he doesn't listen to anyone

  • Rj Ramirez
    Rj Ramirez 11 days ago

    i was wondering were he went

  • markenyou
    markenyou 11 days ago +1


  • ATS
    ATS 11 days ago

    "I don't want his pork chop ...I want his life

  • Kektus Erektus
    Kektus Erektus 11 days ago +1

    Plot twist, he's still a MS-13 gang member.

  • Pibb Reviews
    Pibb Reviews 12 days ago

    Laying in a puddle of their own blüd

  • Vailingkev12734 channel

    Once in a gang you cant get out

  • Patrick William
    Patrick William 12 days ago

    I was once a member of Front Yard Ballas

  • MrYouknowem
    MrYouknowem 13 days ago +1

    i was in a gang and a ms-13 gang member shot me thank god im out

    • lil THC
      lil THC 11 days ago

      MrYouknowem no you were not go kill your cat

  • TheJoseprds99
    TheJoseprds99 13 days ago

    Here a ted talk topic
    I use to eat human, here is how I stop

  • Amalgathor Menace
    Amalgathor Menace 13 days ago

    People need to see this to know the consequences of their actions and what can happen because of those consequences

  • wise cracker 9001
    wise cracker 9001 13 days ago +2

    Yea my dad was drafted in that war he was 15

  • Tru Blue
    Tru Blue 13 days ago

    what’s funny tho in his story the 13 comes from the mexican mafia

  • Emily Larson
    Emily Larson 14 days ago

    What a beautiful way he expressed his ideas. I think we can all understand the feeling of loneliness and wanting to fit in, finding a place to belong. I hope this thought process of spreading love and support will grow

    • stephencarlsbad
      stephencarlsbad 7 days ago

      Yeah but then he went and blamed all of us, society for the consequences of his murderous, criminal behavior.

  • Livi Renea
    Livi Renea 14 days ago

    I caught that Golden Girls reference. Great story.

  • killa krak 617
    killa krak 617 14 days ago

    I was a Latin King I got out 2013

  • itsHEEN
    itsHEEN 14 days ago

    Lol y’all wonder why Trump don’t want all y’all drug thugs in here lmao

  • eduardo ramirez
    eduardo ramirez 14 days ago +1


  • Zain_theking Z.G
    Zain_theking Z.G 15 days ago

    I like his accent ☺️

  • Kaama Koduran
    Kaama Koduran 15 days ago +1

    He was Julio.

  • Steff Montes
    Steff Montes 15 days ago

    All the dislikes are from Ms-13 gang members

  • Kidflash45
    Kidflash45 15 days ago

    he sounds so mexican i wanna sound like that

  • David damian
    David damian 15 days ago

    Come to join my gang MS 19..

  • Mikael Åmark
    Mikael Åmark 15 days ago

    We are social beings and will adapt to our environments, so if you grow up in a violent environment with gangs it is likely that you will join a gang. We all want to matter and make a difference but if someone only has role models which use violence that is what he/she will emulate. As Gerardo says, the solution is in creating environments that support and uplifts. What a human being!

    • stephencarlsbad
      stephencarlsbad 7 days ago

      Bulls*hit! Gangs are the minority where ever they are. People who join gangs are just dipsh*it losers who'd rather not work hard for a living.

  • Ráfek !!
    Ráfek !! 16 days ago

    Where Is this event ? USA, UK ? Please Tell me😃

  • leo8505
    leo8505 16 days ago

    "And I got run over by a herd of buffalo, consequences!"

  • Robert Adryan
    Robert Adryan 16 days ago +1

    I'm calling BS on this...no face tattoos or it didn't happen.

  • ComboSaiyan
    ComboSaiyan 16 days ago +2

    I was apart of Gucci gang thank god I made it out safely

  • george appleton
    george appleton 16 days ago +1

    Ei iei iei

  • Missy Tanner
    Missy Tanner 17 days ago +1

    I was involved with a man from ABZ BOYZ gang in long beach. I dont think most people can get out, he claims he did I will never believe him and I went no contact and moved far away from him. Its been my experience that most do not really want out down deep and when they get out, its forever in their mind and soul to go back. Like having an addiction.

    • stephencarlsbad
      stephencarlsbad 7 days ago

      It is an addiction... To the Power and status that comes from being in a gang.

  • Jacob Barnhart
    Jacob Barnhart 17 days ago +1

    It sucks cause you’re gonna have them tats for life

  • Clay Lowery
    Clay Lowery 17 days ago

    So I get the message but there are some gangs that the only way out is to be killed and if you say you dont want anything to do with it they could kill you right the. And there because of what you have seen so these kids that are in gangs might not be abel to leave the gang they are in for fear that the might be killed on the spot

  • Noah Shepherd
    Noah Shepherd 18 days ago

    He would be a perfect video game voice actor

  • Energy
    Energy 18 days ago

    I thought the only way you can get out of a gang is if they kill you?

  • ttv.ReeCliccBait
    ttv.ReeCliccBait 18 days ago

    Does anyone think thats Doctor Wells from Flash at 9:38 ???

  • David Anewman
    David Anewman 19 days ago +1

    You weren't punished by society for your past, that was God. If they put you in jail for what you did, you would probably never get out

  • Tefff dF
    Tefff dF 19 days ago

    Waffen SS gang

  • Nikola Rakita
    Nikola Rakita 19 days ago

    He still has body language of a g

  • Granty 97
    Granty 97 20 days ago

    hope the wall is built very quickly

  • 123 456
    123 456 20 days ago

    So he went from a lvl crook to a lvl 100 mafia boss

  • KLBL von und zu KLBL
    KLBL von und zu KLBL 20 days ago

    *Gucci Gang i hear?*

  • aniehma diedericks
    aniehma diedericks 21 day ago

    Damn he is hot

  • Song Lyrics
    Song Lyrics 21 day ago

    Im from the egg gang mf

  • Katia Vannoy
    Katia Vannoy 21 day ago

    3:54....that's a stock photo of a film crew. 😂

  • Kade Harvey
    Kade Harvey 22 days ago +2


  • Jennifer Nunez
    Jennifer Nunez 22 days ago

    He is sexy.I don't condone gang affilations but dam.

    ART MCPHARLIN 22 days ago

    Sounds like a real, well it is hard to say.

  • Ben -
    Ben - 23 days ago


  • M TAT
    M TAT 23 days ago

    notification gang

  • Amelia’s Odd Imagination

    I am a survivor of the logang

  • Xv2 honour
    Xv2 honour 23 days ago

    I'm in Sims 4

  • Apex FX
    Apex FX 23 days ago

    Mad Respect for u to even get in the MS-13 and u got out like damn

  • Lou X
    Lou X 24 days ago +1

    This is so interesting! Respect for this guy it's hard to get outta gangs!👐

  • Instinct_Jedi_ ___
    Instinct_Jedi_ ___ 24 days ago

    Ayyyyy El Salvador sorry i am from there

  • Acidic Videos
    Acidic Videos 25 days ago

    I'm MS-13 slitting throats is a very beautiful thing. Having power having authority feels good.