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 • 5 947

  • Nick P
    Nick P 2 hours ago

    Yeah this guy is an expert in criminology

  • DT123
    DT123 3 hours ago +1


  • ennie minee
    ennie minee 11 hours ago

    Aren’t they a blood in blood out type of gang

  • Delirex
    Delirex 16 hours ago +2

    Is he bragging or complaining?

  • Joseph
    Joseph 20 hours ago

    Anyone else think of the key and peele skit "consequences" when this guy was speaking? lol

  • jeff lusty
    jeff lusty 23 hours ago

    I Don't believe him one bit... Once a member a lways a member. If he got called upon, he would have to act accordingly or face death... No one just walks away!

  • Bryn Trev
    Bryn Trev Day ago

    Much love brotha..n major Props..

  • Richard Lieberknecht

    LAPD has a tough job. But has to rid themselves of the "us against them mentality" where every civilian is "them" becoming what is a gang in blue in and of itself. The law enforcement growth industry is an overly aggressive incarceration system. The USA is 5% of the world's population.yet we have 25%of the world's prison population. Kudos to this man for his courage and service to his fellow man.

  • IvanPlayStation4LiFe

    Salvadorians all belong to MS 13 and 18 Street gangs. Thank god Trump sending this criminals back to Central America.

    • Crown Town
      Crown Town 17 hours ago

      IvanPlayStation4LiFe get back on you’re PlayStation, you have no idea what you’re talking about.

  • Nutt Socc
    Nutt Socc Day ago

    this dude dead yet?

  • Astronaut Sexual

    ...and then a piano fell on my head...

  • Skylex
    Skylex Day ago

    he a rapper

  • SheepdogColumbus

    One of the cheesiest Ted Talks I’ve seen.

  • NextLevelAngling
    NextLevelAngling 2 days ago +1

    I have a feeling he’ll regret talking about this on a Ted talk😂

    • Kyle Stevens
      Kyle Stevens Hour ago

      I was wondering the same. Loved his speech tho

  • Mine Finder
    Mine Finder 2 days ago

    Nobody cares about your sob story thug. How many people did you kill before you quit the gang?

  • Caleb Kass
    Caleb Kass 3 days ago +2

    How many people got reminded of Key and Peele’s “Consequences” while watching this video?

  • Duane Yazie
    Duane Yazie 3 days ago


  • Chris G
    Chris G 3 days ago +1

    Hollywood created MS13😬!!!!! Trump 2020 🇺🇸🦅🇺🇸👍

  • geo trapcartel
    geo trapcartel 4 days ago

    Normandie ok

  • Joe Poelmans
    Joe Poelmans 5 days ago

    Only way to get rid of gangs mafias corrupt politicians and such is to find out who they are where they live and off em without leaving a calling card cause most of them wont leave by choice like this guy did. And the cops who beat them after trying to get out are the type that deserve to be dragged kicking and screaming into the street and beaten brutally before theyre finished off.

  • Christopher Conner
    Christopher Conner 5 days ago

    Bro, you are awesome... please keep it up!!!

  • James Arias
    James Arias 5 days ago +1

    Being a X- Gangmember is like being in NA. U can only do it, one day @ a time gods speed.

  • Noah 120%
    Noah 120% 5 days ago

    Great speaker keeping it real

  • michael roberts
    michael roberts 5 days ago +1

    Why didn't he just tell the Gang Leader he wasn't comfortable committing crimes..and then quit going to the gang meetings. That would end it, no harm, no foul, Hommie. KNOW WHAT I MEAN????

  • Chucky Lives
    Chucky Lives 5 days ago +2

    He is awesome. What he did to turn his life around and how he is helping others to escape the gang life is amazing.

  • Irock 56
    Irock 56 5 days ago

    He went back to the hood mid-way!

  • Honda Rider12
    Honda Rider12 5 days ago

    Ok TVclip I’ll watch it

  • Bryan Broyles
    Bryan Broyles 5 days ago

    I was in the catipiller gang one of the most dangerous gangs I got out by doing one last job and that was to do a drive by on a cattipiller in the bushes

  • G Wolf
    G Wolf 5 days ago

    Just " faded away" from the gang MS13?,,,"Unlawfully arrested"? Interesting story. I hope more kids do get help..

  • Colin Blaine
    Colin Blaine 6 days ago +1

    So, MS13 is the product of being bullied. Way to take responsibility for MS13's brutality.

  • Priscilla Fuentes
    Priscilla Fuentes 7 days ago +3

    I believe that Jesus Christ, will cover him from all attacks of the enemy. God bless,him and keep him. That is, if he is a believer born again. I will pray for him. Because he's doing good with our youth.

  • Ninja Foot
    Ninja Foot 7 days ago

    How can I join this gang that gets people out of gangs? What’s the initiation process? When do I get the tattoo? Do I have to speak in Cholo?

  • PNCgaming
    PNCgaming 7 days ago

    Good people doing good things, that's what's important in this world.

  • Daniel Martinez
    Daniel Martinez 7 days ago

    2.3k gangstars don't like his message hahah

  • Shaun freeston
    Shaun freeston 8 days ago

    I have respect for a man or women who has the courage to stand admit their faults and try to educate others as myself have done my podcast is on TVclip shaun Freeston sentenced to 99years in jail. So when ppl are criticising and calling him vile names just think his words could prevent one of your young family members ending up in gangs addicted to drugs, in jail or worse losing their lives and I'm talking from experience my little bro lost his life trying to live up and gain acceptance through seeing what I was doing. So massive respect to this guy he is trying to right his wrongs

  • Carlos Sanchez
    Carlos Sanchez 8 days ago

    Stories like this are amazing to me, hope I can do something that can help people like he did one day

  • unkown human
    unkown human 8 days ago

    I know deep down he wants to be an MS again

  • Shellie Shimmel
    Shellie Shimmel 8 days ago

    Gerardo must be a protege of Alex Sanchez and Homies Unidos in LA, and has expanded his good works to Colorado. I love it when people who have received help give back by helping others. The world needs more people like this.

  • D Mechanic Silva
    D Mechanic Silva 9 days ago


  • Bashful Dreams
    Bashful Dreams 9 days ago

    Very inspirational

  • Justin Freeman
    Justin Freeman 9 days ago

    The World weapon of Question

  • Jose Hoshua
    Jose Hoshua 9 days ago

    His voice truly shows he was a real cholo

  • Down Hill
    Down Hill 9 days ago

    blood in blood out. How is he not a target? They should've killed him by now...

  • George Wilson
    George Wilson 9 days ago

    I want ms 13 to read stories on the radio.

  • Joe Framo
    Joe Framo 9 days ago

    What a awesome story thank you for sharing this video you are an awesome man

  • myLUVisRAGE 13_CBK
    myLUVisRAGE 13_CBK 10 days ago

    13 sud for life homie 💙💪ftp

  • slyonme
    slyonme 10 days ago

    so this guy is a mexican/argentinian but loves salvadorian culture ;) i wish him all the best in helping kids get out of gangs and to the people that just judge ...if you never been in a tough barrio and dont know what is like..please dont comment your pendejadas

  • Cole Van Landuyt
    Cole Van Landuyt 10 days ago

    He should do voice acting lmao

  • MFJonez
    MFJonez 12 days ago


  • J M.
    J M. 12 days ago

    Aren't you a dead man walking now?

  • Robert Kristof
    Robert Kristof 12 days ago

    Good man

  • Ium Stuff
    Ium Stuff 12 days ago

    great work.

  • boaty
    boaty 13 days ago

    I am so grateful that there are people like you out there and changing the world we live in. Thank you so much !!!

  • Eleazar 503goat
    Eleazar 503goat 13 days ago

    I’m not Salvadoran SMH

  • James Booth
    James Booth 13 days ago +1

    Sad fact: There's a high possible true rumor that you can literally get murdered if you try to leave the MS-13.

  • Edgar Ricardo
    Edgar Ricardo 13 days ago

    nothing to be proud of...

  • Rough Christian
    Rough Christian 14 days ago

    Me me me, I I I......no gospel even preached!!!!!

  • Phil 502
    Phil 502 14 days ago

    Slow down immigration from places where MS 13 people originated. Their kids are struggling and will need more help than the average kid. It's fine if you want to help but realize what you are getting yourself into. I volunteer at a youth detention facility and have found way more kids from refugee/immigrant backgrounds than there should be based on their numbers.

  • stepe Official
    stepe Official 14 days ago +1

    GOD is great !😁❤

  • Mark Slightam
    Mark Slightam 15 days ago

    This is wholesome af!

  • Lil Claptrap
    Lil Claptrap 15 days ago


  • King Stirlington
    King Stirlington 15 days ago +1


  • Sma - Wigh
    Sma - Wigh 16 days ago +1

    Thanks i Will try this

  • aminhusieni
    aminhusieni 16 days ago +1

    Another actor making money like all the fake ex muslims lmao

  • Beckey Girard
    Beckey Girard 16 days ago

    Gerardo I am so sorry that you went through everything that you went through. But I am so glad that God put you through the fire but brought you out the other side so that you could speak to other young people who are in the position you were in. Praise Jesus God bless you and God bless everyone whose Hearts you're touching

  • Erik Perez
    Erik Perez 16 days ago +1

    They create the monsters that terrize you in school then pretend to sympothise

  • Erik Perez
    Erik Perez 16 days ago +1

    Freemasons are behind all this know your true enemy

    • Erik Perez
      Erik Perez 16 days ago

      They're leaders are freemasons

  • Life Present
    Life Present 17 days ago

    Government < Love for your self & others
    God's hand IS upon Mr. Lopez

  • john mac
    john mac 17 days ago +3


  • Jay Zee
    Jay Zee 17 days ago

    I'm glad this guy was able to get out. And I agree that people shouldn't be punished for getting out of gangs. But guess what? There are lots of lost, lonely young people from poor families who find ways to make their way in the world that don't make things worse for others - in many cases, others who are in the same position. That wasn't an inevitable outcome of his position in society - that's on him.

  • Misael 72
    Misael 72 17 days ago


  • KiloSixTV
    KiloSixTV 17 days ago +1

    If you’re looking for a brotherhood like he talked about. Join the military, gangs aren’t worth it.

  • Jose Lopez
    Jose Lopez 18 days ago +1

    With all do respect homie is good spokesmen but iv seen homies in the pen Christian or OG speak some wise wisdom open a lot homies eyes for peace movement

  • supreme Yambo
    supreme Yambo 19 days ago +1

    Ms 13 was made in el Salvador

  • Proud Boyz
    Proud Boyz 19 days ago

    So if we never let these refugees in we wouldn't have this problem..... We're gonna have Muslim based gangs soon. Go ahead and call me xenophobic.

  • Dustin E
    Dustin E 19 days ago

    Did he just say ms13 was created in the United States lol

  • superfuckin cool
    superfuckin cool 19 days ago


  • Jay Gill
    Jay Gill 21 day ago +63

    Every saint has a past,
    Every sinner has a future (Oscar Wilde)

  • jstm
    jstm 21 day ago


  • Dez Bryant
    Dez Bryant 21 day ago

    I’m gonna say it! I love how this guy sounds hahahaha

    KENNY GILL 21 day ago

    B S gang undercover

  • Jacob Galvan
    Jacob Galvan 22 days ago +1

    I believe God will give you a way out but you have to pray for that vision so you have peace and courage to fight for freedom. Better to die fighting for the light then to die fighting in darkness.

  • fernando meneses
    fernando meneses 23 days ago

    A bigger gang than ms13 would be 18st.

  • Estephan Guerra
    Estephan Guerra 23 days ago

    Caesar from On My Block needs to take notes

  • Luke the Duke
    Luke the Duke 23 days ago +1

    Blood everywhere. Everyone in a pile of blood. What a vision.

  • Gasko Gaskovich
    Gasko Gaskovich 23 days ago +1

    you are lying. there is no way out of MS. ur just a lying clown

    • Gio Rv
      Gio Rv 22 days ago

      Fake tattoos you will never be allowed to put anything on top of the letters you will be dead and saying you got out? Foh there is only one way out

  • Balakay1221
    Balakay1221 23 days ago

    When he said, he lost 2 years because of his past it reminded me of us being judged one day by God. We cant justify ourselves and say oh well, i stopped those ways and became a good person. God is a God of Justice, but like Gerardo, we can have our case before God dismissed, because the fines were all paid by the blood of Jesus! Amen

  • NT 767
    NT 767 23 days ago +6

    This video needs a "love" button. Like isn't sufficient.

  • Jeff Nasser
    Jeff Nasser 24 days ago


    • Gamma 317
      Gamma 317 23 days ago

      I agree with you , but if people change for the better let them stay , why take them back ? For them to be murdered , I believe if you change you deserve a opportunity, people don’t understand these days that they don’t want to go back to seeing violence, they came over here to see positive things , innocent are being deported and kids are left alone , deport the ones who have not changed , the ones who make the violence happen , not the innocent trying to feed their family and give them a better life so they don’t see the types of things they saw growing up . Open your eyes , change happens

  • ReidoDorito
    ReidoDorito 24 days ago +1

    This man is an absolute madlad. Mad respect for him.

    DjNrGETIK 25 days ago

    I'm surprised theres no Key and Peele consequences references in the comments.

  • Ethan Dabs
    Ethan Dabs 25 days ago +1

    10:34 think about all the times justice wasn’t served. This man got lucky. Our monetary based criminal justice system is appalling to say the least.

  • Herman Ortega
    Herman Ortega 25 days ago

    On a street level El Salvadorans were considered below traditional Chicano gangs that came from 2 or 3 generations of gang culture.

  • Andrea Gaye Scott Westfall


  • Andrea Gaye Scott Westfall


  • Max Cepeda
    Max Cepeda 25 days ago

    He should of stayed in the gang.

  • Nick D
    Nick D 26 days ago +1

    This man is a great example of a revolutionary that wants to stop people from being pressured like he was

  • Terrance Ball
    Terrance Ball 26 days ago +1

    He chose the gangster life and normal life chose him... Or
    The gangster life chose him and he chose the normal life??

  • Mandrake ElMago
    Mandrake ElMago 26 days ago

    Proof that anyone can turn their life around. 💪🏼

  • Valar Morghulis
    Valar Morghulis 27 days ago

    2,299 MS-13 members disliked this talk.