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 • 5 085

  • Gavin O'Loughlin
    Gavin O'Loughlin 11 hours ago

    This talk was made by M-14 gang

  • SmokedEdge
    SmokedEdge 12 hours ago

    Yes, families... Mothers and fathers worked multiple jobs trying to support their family in a new land. That's why they joined ms13 and cut people's heads off. It's just math.

  • stephen kingsdale
    stephen kingsdale 14 hours ago

    Bless this man Father

  • Maker Shaker Waker
    Maker Shaker Waker 18 hours ago

    This is why i support death penalty. He deserves to be executed by law enforcement. Imagine how many lives he helped destroy. Execute that animal... Why do you guys on TED give former MS13 members speaking time?

  • Tech
    Tech 19 hours ago

    Idk about this, it is not that easy to leave a gang, nonetheless MS13

  • ADMtheViper
    ADMtheViper 22 hours ago +1

    Elllll grrrrrrrringoooooo.!!!

  • Josh Atkinson
    Josh Atkinson 23 hours ago

    Keen an peel “consequences” 😂 episode is just like this lol

  • Josh Atkinson
    Josh Atkinson Day ago

    Lol “consequences”

  • wildo alvarez
    wildo alvarez Day ago

    I was. A ms13 member and I was able to make it out .i got deported to Guatemala and I quit gangbangin

  • marvelv212
    marvelv212 Day ago +1

    US is a zoo

  • ll Im Clamps ll Xb1

    I’m trying to get out of my gang, gucci

  • Johnathan Lukas
    Johnathan Lukas Day ago

    “How I got arrested during a TED talk”

  • Finlay Matthews
    Finlay Matthews 2 days ago

    I like tacitos

  • Alyson
    Alyson 2 days ago

    The weak ones are the ones who become members, the strong ones are the ones who leave.

  • Rusty Shackleford
    Rusty Shackleford 2 days ago +3

    I was part of a gang and was trying to leave and do better.... *BUT THEN A PIANO FELL ON MY HEAD* *like if you know where this is from*

  • Sonia Martinez
    Sonia Martinez 3 days ago

    Amazing story! People can change ,but need encouragement . Change takes time, if its in their hearts they will & can change.

  • Prometheus All
    Prometheus All 3 days ago

    People are something else. . . . thanks for your story sir. . . . .

  • The Binary
    The Binary 3 days ago

    i feel like hes trying to be mexican with that accent

  • weeazybaby
    weeazybaby 3 days ago +1

    He’s still got the gangster in him, look at the way he talks, walks & stands lol

  • Ben L
    Ben L 3 days ago


  • thomas corbett
    thomas corbett 3 days ago

    I am for. Los Angeles I found his Ted talk great I know how it is growing up in that environment he did not mention how deadly it was in the late 80's and 90's I can't even talk to my folks about it cause they don't get it getting gun down there for a young man was a reality at the time if you were alone or in armed you would likely end up DEAD you had 2 be all about it in those days things are a little calmer in L. A these a
    days everyone from those days got locked up,deported or killed
    Strait up.

  • Cesar Marroquin
    Cesar Marroquin 4 days ago

    Let’s not forget that the United States is the reason for the violence in Central America. Look into military coup that the United States has in El Salvador. They are the reason for the violence. Also even the MS13 was made here in the US!!! Think about that!

    • Austin
      Austin 3 days ago

      The "United States" is a pretty broad reason. If you could identify a specific group of people, and prove what they do, then you could get people to be against them.

  • Ad Fdsfsd
    Ad Fdsfsd 4 days ago

    I disagree with him on many stuff, but he did make very clear points. I disagree that kids they want to join gangs In or in order to feel belong, and pride. Even though those gangs use violence and assault that if you are a good kid you will stay away from gangs in the first place. Now kids can join them just to feel powerful n welcoming, and do bad stuff such as drags and assaults? No I went hire someone that was bad once in their life, mainly because they made poor choose in life, so why wont they do it again??

    ƏĐÛÅŘĎØ Æ 4 days ago

    Here in El Salvador it's almost impossible to get out of the gang

  • John Crowley
    John Crowley 4 days ago

    Please look up the the key and Peele skits called "consequences"... thank me later.

  • Zara
    Zara 4 days ago +1

    U fukn snitch ur next

  • theflyingegg
    theflyingegg 4 days ago


  • X Angel X
    X Angel X 4 days ago +1

    Im in that JC gang man jesus christ😎

  • Malcolm L
    Malcolm L 5 days ago

    Just put them all before a firing squad and shoot them dead on the street that will get rid of them.

    • Ma'Halious Walker
      Ma'Halious Walker Day ago

      White people?!!!! 😯. Dude calm down. Not all of them are sociopathic maniacs.

  • Matthias Schuster
    Matthias Schuster 5 days ago

    How is fishing not violent?

  • Sean Jones
    Sean Jones 5 days ago


  • Zoomi Zoom
    Zoomi Zoom 5 days ago

    I was a weeaboo, now I’m not!

    *room is covered in anime posters and in his bed there is a anime body pillow and computer is on hentaihaven*

    FASTESTMAN ON3LEGS 6 days ago

    Who? cares......

  • Watcher
    Watcher 6 days ago

    He did the Picture this English sentence 👌

  • Logan Neil
    Logan Neil 6 days ago

    This is reality for a lot of people. I really enjoyed this talk. We need more people to speak about their experiences to understand where changes need to be made.

  • Caleb Rohrer
    Caleb Rohrer 6 days ago

    The golf clap is strong with some of'em out in that crowd.

  • Gabrielle Sivley
    Gabrielle Sivley 6 days ago

    Great talk

  • dane bradbury
    dane bradbury 6 days ago


  • His name is Limitless

    This my homies dad, no cap

  • Nate Silva
    Nate Silva 6 days ago

    its Rico Rodriguez. does this guy have a grappling hook?

  • 1990CUEVAS
    1990CUEVAS 7 days ago

    I knew this foo was mexican

  • Christian Emmanuel Velasquez


  • Cody Gornall
    Cody Gornall 7 days ago

    Respect! You help those that can't get out of the darkness.

  • Anne
    Anne 7 days ago

    Lawd have mercy.. He blaming it some damn bullies

  • Grim Reaper
    Grim Reaper 7 days ago +1

    12:55 I legit believe that. It's a personal philosophy of mine. He even used the word "self-esteem." You can't get your worth or pride of yourself from others. If you do, you give them your powers and the chance to manipulate you in the shape and form they want to manipulate you to get the most out of you to benefit them. It's not just gangs who do this, the US military does it too.

  • Daesung Mars
    Daesung Mars 8 days ago

    Why is he so hot? 😍

  • Austin Salzillo
    Austin Salzillo 8 days ago

    He definitely number 1 on their hit list now lmao

  • pp Duci
    pp Duci 8 days ago

    This guy sounds like key and peel’s consequences

  • Bart G
    Bart G 9 days ago


  • Woodmeister
    Woodmeister 9 days ago +1

    Trying to get ouf of Gucci Gang, thanks for the video. Motivational video I'll call Pump and tell him that i'm done.

  • Daniel Hertzler
    Daniel Hertzler 9 days ago

    " I hate locked doors!"

  • LoweTTV
    LoweTTV 9 days ago

    who wants to join my fortnite gang?

  • Jose Aguilera
    Jose Aguilera 9 days ago

    Key and peele?

  • Ole Kyrie
    Ole Kyrie 10 days ago +1

    ....no more chimmy chungas

  • Bored
    Bored 10 days ago +7

    TVclip I clicked u happy?

  • Stan Many Stanmanson
    Stan Many Stanmanson 10 days ago

    MS13 got nothing on my kindergarten group.

  • josh Smith
    josh Smith 11 days ago

    Go look at happy birthday lol song.

  • Juan  Garcia
    Juan Garcia 11 days ago

    Fake news

  • Caleb Hobson
    Caleb Hobson 11 days ago

    Anyone want to join gucci gang

  • Macress Jackson
    Macress Jackson 11 days ago

    This is The Theo Vons dad!

  • Areel Khan
    Areel Khan 11 days ago

    Thanks, I was looking for a tutorial on how to get out!

  • Robban
    Robban 11 days ago

    sounds like jonah hill in 22 jump street

  • Slipknot fan boy
    Slipknot fan boy 11 days ago

    Plot twist: The dislikes on this video are all the gang members

  • Evan payne
    Evan payne 11 days ago +1

    Who else loves this man for his amazing journey and heartbreaking story 😭😭😭happy tears

  • Voz
    Voz 12 days ago

    whew. I was worried about David for a second. "He was doing so well, but then....". Ricky from Boyz N The Hood all over again

  • Fatal Existence
    Fatal Existence 12 days ago

    kind of looks like hes trying to cut a wrestling promo at the beginning

  • 4k45h
    4k45h 12 days ago

    I wouldn't hire any person with a tattoo on their face. Not because I care what gang they're repping, but that it'll likely put-off customers, and would be bad business. Back end/ data entry/ non customer facing, yes ofcourse, but I'd need an assurance from an organization like yours that they have indeed left the gang.

  • RuggedMan Gamer
    RuggedMan Gamer 12 days ago

    Mannn, that accent is loco

  • Carl Johnson
    Carl Johnson 12 days ago +1

    I was 9year old supporting Pewdiepie for almost my entire life...

  • Leslie Scout
    Leslie Scout 12 days ago

    so inspirational and courageous

  • Shilonious Monk
    Shilonious Monk 12 days ago

    Liar 🤣🤣🤣

  • WEI KIT LEE 李威颉
    WEI KIT LEE 李威颉 13 days ago +4

    Damn this guy can be an actor

    • Blackwidows
      Blackwidows 5 days ago

      WEI KIT LEE 李威颉 that's exactly what he's doing

  • shinto666
    shinto666 13 days ago

    This guy is nothing special, dime a dozen...

  • Chills
    Chills 13 days ago

    I used to be an 18, Ms and 18s used to get lit lol, btw we also call some salvatruchas literally el salvador its one of the worst place u wanna visit every single day theres a gun fight cops are so retarted that they come 20 minutes lates when theyre gone already

  • I Gamez 2508
    I Gamez 2508 13 days ago

    For all of you leftists who support the MS13 gang watch this because you will see that some want out but are to afraid

  • Jake Purdham
    Jake Purdham 13 days ago

    Liar we know all about you - ~

  • J LiT
    J LiT 13 days ago

    it starts at home holms

  • HAWfilms
    HAWfilms 13 days ago +1

    I was a member of the notification gang, managed to get out

  • Saaid R
    Saaid R 13 days ago


  • Chamblezin1
    Chamblezin1 13 days ago

    He probably whooped dude's asses lol.

  • Marcelo Duran
    Marcelo Duran 14 days ago

    We coming for you

  • Tewy
    Tewy 14 days ago

    This is like an extended version of Key and Peele's Consequences

  • Craterside
    Craterside 14 days ago

    Console Gang..Nick Mercs

  • dirtTdude
    dirtTdude 14 days ago

    I have no pity what so ever

  • melissa steele-wells
    melissa steele-wells 14 days ago

    I'm not a gang member or a criminal. Legal married name Thompson, not currently married. For the record, I'm a fertile, smart, creative woman in her thirties with three kids. I love the outdoors, cooking, painting and I'm in Knoxville tn about to leave being threatened with arrest if I leave when I have done nothing wrong. I'm homeless and I don't work at a grocery store...or a bar or a restaurant. Tons of lies here.

  • Pjot
    Pjot 14 days ago

    i wish more jobs had this same mindset

  • YouTube Addict
    YouTube Addict 14 days ago +2

    His bulge is...

  • white boy
    white boy 15 days ago


  • Every Potato
    Every Potato 15 days ago

    ms-13 = Microsoft-13

  • I'm Not A Vampire
    I'm Not A Vampire 15 days ago

    Consequences!! Key and Peel anyone? lol that's what this reminds me of.

  • lucy.jamison
    lucy.jamison 15 days ago

    Ok but this mans accent is 💓

  • Omniscient 1
    Omniscient 1 15 days ago

    The low brow sing song accent is awful.

  • Brendan's World
    Brendan's World 15 days ago

    7:56 that actually brought tears to my eyes

  • Jaximus246
    Jaximus246 15 days ago

    Ted for prez 2020

  • Paul Callahan
    Paul Callahan 15 days ago

    Very powerful.

  • K1LL10NA1RE
    K1LL10NA1RE 15 days ago

    Like how they included his name So uhhhh now MS13 can find out where he lives and work place

  • Dani parra
    Dani parra 15 days ago

    i cried

  • James Utley
    James Utley 15 days ago

    Many don’t realize how life is in gang territory. On the streets or in prison you live in fear of all gangs even if you’re just minding your own business. It’s like being an innocent child in a war zone so you join to have protection even tho you’re still a target of rival gangs you a least have your own to have your back. No everyone joins caused they’re bad. They become bad cause that’s what it takes to stay alive. Sad but true

  • wtfgoogle
    wtfgoogle 16 days ago

    You wanna set these kids straight for real? Get Big Dragon in there to give a talk!