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 • 5 387

  • F4K3 N3W5
    F4K3 N3W5 7 minutes ago

    Trust me! He isn't out! He's only out when he's dead. They'll get him eventually, or he'll be in hiding for life. There is a reason it's called blood in/blood out!

  • Nite Fox
    Nite Fox 2 hours ago

    Well, if you have an MS 13 on your face it is going to be difficult to interact with the public...BUT, there is always a way. Animals don't care what is on your face, they feel what is in your heart

  • As Baz
    As Baz 3 hours ago

    "Then I got sucked in by a wormhole. Consequence-e-e-s!!!"

  • anthony ramos
    anthony ramos 15 hours ago

    This guy is awesome but IDK why I felt like when someone else is driving my car and I'm in the passenger seat stepping on the break

  • John Daroza
    John Daroza 22 hours ago

    My life has been impacted by gang violence !
    The gang was called cops 👮‍♀️!

  • Jon Clarkson
    Jon Clarkson Day ago

    You're still a lowlife punk.

  • Sleepy Cobra
    Sleepy Cobra Day ago

    Number 13 represent minimum age required to join gang ?

  • Deborah Kate
    Deborah Kate Day ago

    We love you for all of this brother.

    DOEROCKSAH Day ago


  • joey o
    joey o Day ago

    this gang has to be the most cowardly gang in the entire U.S.. ....they just killed ANOTHER teenage girl in Maryland.

  • James Brown Jr
    James Brown Jr Day ago


  • youtoober2013
    youtoober2013 Day ago +1

    12:08 YO this man the _real_ G!
    Every individual has unknown capacity. Giving _anyone_ hope is enough.
    There's really no end to what we can do, whether negative or positive, when we come together as a community.

  • Chris Podcast
    Chris Podcast 2 days ago

    I need Michael Pena to voice over this

  • Kyle Ryan
    Kyle Ryan 2 days ago

    you are a hero my man

  • circle1902 1902
    circle1902 1902 2 days ago

    Is this guy real? Or an actor? Youd think he'd want to get rid of the accent. Not the spanish accent. But the "im an ex gangster ehh" accent. My dad was in a gang with all latinos. And he changed the way he spoke. He didnt want to seem uneducated or in a gang is what he told me.

  • Kaltrina Demiri
    Kaltrina Demiri 2 days ago +1

    This! We need to support this and kids who are in gangs who want to get out.

  • your majesty mrmac215

    Much respect brotha

  • Knockda 8
    Knockda 8 3 days ago +1

    Hold applause until end & 1st be held responsible for your crimes you committed essay. Then AND ONLY THEN maybe you could possibly be reintroduced into society & ACCEPTED. ouch or maybe not.. responsiblity

  • Miguel Leal
    Miguel Leal 3 days ago

    did they allow him to leave the gang or what

  • Matt Rattlehead
    Matt Rattlehead 3 days ago


  • John Fumblebaggot
    John Fumblebaggot 4 days ago

    He's still in. The only way out is death.

  • Knewt Knight
    Knewt Knight 4 days ago

    He's Ms-13 and he talks like a Mexican.......

  • Knewt Knight
    Knewt Knight 4 days ago +1

    If he were white, he would of been a mass shooter to deal with bullying.

  • Knewt Knight
    Knewt Knight 4 days ago +1

    He should lose the accent, people would take him more seriously.

    • Xavii Alvarez
      Xavii Alvarez 4 days ago

      Knewt Knight i thought accents were attractive ah

  • Jack Heppell
    Jack Heppell 4 days ago +1

    A house built on sand will crash. Build upon the ROCK

  • Share
    Share 4 days ago


  • Sindy Castro
    Sindy Castro 4 days ago

    Alex Sanchez is the man!

  • jash21222
    jash21222 5 days ago +1


  • harshit thakur
    harshit thakur 5 days ago

    Why does he seems like a psycho talking who will shoot his hostage at the end of the video

  • Greg Brady
    Greg Brady 5 days ago +3

    I'm in MS-12. It's for white guys.

  • Rekthief
    Rekthief 5 days ago

    Everyone is in some kind of gang, including police and preschoolers

  • Mr Meme
    Mr Meme 6 days ago

    Is this that guy from next Friday?

  • Eli Barc
    Eli Barc 6 days ago +3

    OMG..... pese que yo era el único cholo arrepentido lol

  • neilorourke71
    neilorourke71 7 days ago +1

    "Strong families are key to violence prevention"

    Tell that to the democrats trying to dissolve the family unit.

  • john haworth
    john haworth 7 days ago +1

    i wonder if that stage is specially reinforced to carry the weight of his massive testes.

  • Jesse Smith
    Jesse Smith 7 days ago

    What click was this cat from?

  • Artemis Hunts
    Artemis Hunts 7 days ago

    No way

  • Tristan George
    Tristan George 7 days ago

    >Mexican joins a gang.
    No way, say it isn't so.

  • some characters not allowed

    This dude speaks in straight mexican cartel meme language

  • El Señor T
    El Señor T 7 days ago

    Hacking people up with machetes 👉IS NOT👈 my cup of Tea. 🍵 The police can shoot every last 1 of those MS-13 bastards as far as I'm concerned

  • richard marino
    richard marino 7 days ago

    What is he doing to stop ms13 nothing . Blood in and boold out once a member always a member he should be a dead man to ms13 but here he is excusing themselves. And what about the life he had to take to join.

  • Time Is On My Side
    Time Is On My Side 7 days ago +3

    "And then, I got trampled by a water buffalo. Consequences."

  • CanndyDrive Gaming
    CanndyDrive Gaming 8 days ago

    Not 27 lool

  • CanndyDrive Gaming
    CanndyDrive Gaming 8 days ago

    Wait 23 years

  • CanndyDrive Gaming
    CanndyDrive Gaming 8 days ago

    I saw so much even saw that a lot
    Of people out there are not diagnosed with autism
    I had doctors but there never told me about I have autism

  • CanndyDrive Gaming
    CanndyDrive Gaming 8 days ago

    I show people on TVclip nothing
    Because I tell the story u can
    Never hurt me because that’s my history and never can rebuild that
    Is my life experience I have and I
    Learned a lot from it

  • CanndyDrive Gaming
    CanndyDrive Gaming 8 days ago +1

    Everyone have a story
    And if u tell the wrong person wrong people about your story it will
    Be use by those who started a war against that person for no reason
    For there little scientist project or
    Trying to re program some one else
    He’s own mind
    I always have been in control of my mind and the way I think from this th🤔
    To this 💭

  • CanndyDrive Gaming
    CanndyDrive Gaming 8 days ago

    Even if people take away the love from me I will remain with great wisdom and happiness and will not become to hate others

  • CanndyDrive Gaming
    CanndyDrive Gaming 8 days ago

    I understand what the gang thing trying to do but helping a narcissist or some one to get back revenge on them
    You need too know both stories first
    Before u attack
    The gang always attacked
    Someone who never had
    A criminal record in hes or her life before
    The gang never see what happening behind the walls so you can
    Never be the judge
    I not a director or a spy 🕵️‍♀️
    But I don’t come in people life
    To destroy it i could it my self
    If I wanted but I got people who love me

  • CanndyDrive Gaming
    CanndyDrive Gaming 8 days ago

    Even the crazy ones

  • CanndyDrive Gaming
    CanndyDrive Gaming 8 days ago

    Joining people with autism spectrum
    Yep love all my people

  • CanndyDrive Gaming
    CanndyDrive Gaming 8 days ago

    And I did that a long time ago

  • CanndyDrive Gaming
    CanndyDrive Gaming 8 days ago

    I fully recover from all my traumas

  • CanndyDrive Gaming
    CanndyDrive Gaming 8 days ago

    U set people back in isolation
    U not helping them to overcome
    I lucky i not easy to be fooled
    U guys learn from your victim and re use the victim s traits on other s

  • DaBeast
    DaBeast 8 days ago

    So how he got out just doesnt make sense. I thought the only way to get out of MS13 is to get killed. If he really was MS13, his former gang must be looking for him.

  • Nathan Caveney
    Nathan Caveney 8 days ago

    This man has been through so much. Bravo! Probably never knew his dad

  • Jenni Whipple
    Jenni Whipple 9 days ago +8

    Thank you for your talk. The circumstances of the gangs is something I am very aware of. I love that you used your experience to help these kids, the communities, and the families. A venture, I, myself, am on. Thank you for being a positive in the negative world these kids know and oftentimes think they love.

  • UFO
    UFO 9 days ago


  • MomoTV
    MomoTV 9 days ago +3

    7:37 LMAOOO!! i thought my guy meant to say Alexis sanchez i had to double check

  • Not a human
    Not a human 9 days ago

    what an essay.

  • Det3ctive Conan
    Det3ctive Conan 9 days ago +3

    🌷It amazing how loyal those lost young men are to a small group who accepts them. 😢

    • Det3ctive Conan
      Det3ctive Conan 6 days ago +1

      +ZombieMod Good observation. Thanks for the tip and example. Thank you for taking the time to comment.

    • ZombieMod
      ZombieMod 6 days ago +1

      I know you probably made a mistake. But i think you ment to use the word "Accept"? Because *Except* means leaving out. Where as "Accept" means to take in

  • Tony Derywosh
    Tony Derywosh 10 days ago

    Hey Ranchero , we have our own problems here in our country so why dont you take your problems back to your country.

  • Demetrius Dasilva
    Demetrius Dasilva 10 days ago +2

    TED joined Microsoft-13

    • Ross
      Ross 5 days ago

      MS-DOS 13

  • ZesterPosey
    ZesterPosey 10 days ago

    Ugh Mexican and Argentine 😻🥺 I’m Argentine and I lovee mexicans .

  • big POPPA
    big POPPA 11 days ago

    Has anyone find his Instagram yet

  • Sit On My Weenie
    Sit On My Weenie 11 days ago +2

    Plot Twist: He’s actually running a recruiting station.

  • Matthew Smith
    Matthew Smith 11 days ago

    El Salvador was the US Oligarchy fault -- notice how I say Oligarchy and not US people. US people are not control of their State Dept the Oligarchy is --- The US people want the wars to stop, the Oligarchy doesn't -- so it doesn't stop, see who is in charge. Every WAR the US has been in since Teddy Roosevelt and the Spanish American War (based on a lie). US citizens have to realize that both the Democratic and Republicans are owned by this Oligarchy. Sure they politicians fight for the position, because they know they want to work for the Oligarchy --- they lie to the American People about their real intentions. Wake UP!!!

  • anthony rodriguez
    anthony rodriguez 11 days ago

    One thing he didn't mention was lack of father's.

  • Nathan Bennett
    Nathan Bennett 11 days ago

    Personal respnsibility,

  • Dion St. Michael
    Dion St. Michael 11 days ago

    His message is a great reminder.

  • Appolo Geticks
    Appolo Geticks 11 days ago +3

    Now, to be complete, he just needs to acknowledge the Lord and savior, Jesus, Christ as the reason for his good fortune and give Him all glory and honor.

    • Elisabeth
      Elisabeth 9 days ago

      Jesus had NOTHING to do with this. This man left and turned his life around himself. He accomplished all these things on his own. If god exists, well he’s a cruel person for allowing children like this man to grow up in dangerous, intolerable conditions.

    • datdude josh
      datdude josh 11 days ago


  • matthijs maris
    matthijs maris 11 days ago

    tedx milehigh? there not on a plane, are they smoking?

    • Petr Bela
      Petr Bela 11 days ago

      TEDx MileHigh is in Denver, which is called the Mile High city due to its elevation.

  • Kath Koko
    Kath Koko 11 days ago

    While the gang members are having second chances, those who were murdered by these same gang members did not have the opportunity to continue with their lives ...

  • Loves Lunatics
    Loves Lunatics 12 days ago

    Bla bla. Every halfwit and his dog is an excon, exgangbanger nowadays. Just gives cred to assholes and morons.

  • Genarito15
    Genarito15 12 days ago

    No cache ni una wea

  • Focusoncreativity
    Focusoncreativity 12 days ago


  • Rhea Hall
    Rhea Hall 12 days ago

    If this guy can change his life anybody can this is inspired

  • Benito Camela
    Benito Camela 12 days ago +1

    I wonder how many gang members were raised by single moms

    • Miguel Claudio
      Miguel Claudio 12 days ago

      This is why they cant raise kids alone... ._.

  • unknown unknown
    unknown unknown 13 days ago +1

    This is a very dramatic presentation.

  • TheGodlike300
    TheGodlike300 13 days ago +1

    picture this... EL SALVADORRRRR

  • Uzair Ali
    Uzair Ali 13 days ago

    he reminds me of that guy from ant man XD

  • willow the midget
    willow the midget 13 days ago

    I hate you Ted😤🤧🤫🤥

  • ExecutivePenStylus
    ExecutivePenStylus 14 days ago

    This was an excellent talk...one of the best I’ve heard. A great speaker ! Great job !

  • jvburnes
    jvburnes 14 days ago +6

    You can curse the darkness or light a candle. This guy lit a bonfire. Very cool.

  • Zero Dark Thirty
    Zero Dark Thirty 14 days ago

    Where’s your forehead tattoo?
    This guy was never MS13, and that’s the fakest mexican accent I ever heard.
    Nice try Ted.

  • Gina Loves random shizzle

    This man is amazing, he is intelligent and has seen life from two different extremes. Somehow though he still comes across somewhat comedic. This guy would probably be great at stand-up!

  • Ave s
    Ave s 16 days ago +1

    Stop the negative comments! He got out! He’s making his life better. God bless you.

    • ARMDC
      ARMDC 10 days ago

      I see no bad comment

  • Bd finnessa
    Bd finnessa 16 days ago +2

    Respect brother for telling us your story 👌

  • Nita Thomas
    Nita Thomas 16 days ago

    Beautiful story.

  • Corz Illa
    Corz Illa 16 days ago

    marked man .... stay on alert.

  • Nick Corso
    Nick Corso 16 days ago +8

    I thought it said George Lopez, but was not disappointed. Incredible speech man!

    • Kiwi Bird
      Kiwi Bird 10 days ago

      Dude there's probably thousands of people named George Lopez

  • Michael Metz
    Michael Metz 16 days ago

    Powerful talk.

  • Maky Mcthug
    Maky Mcthug 16 days ago

    You Joining my gang is your choice
    You leaving it or not will be my choice.

  • c. 1
    c. 1 16 days ago +4

    This guy has a big pair of balls! I must say, I respect that. Getting out is no joke. I know for a fact that he has to be always aware if his going to be killed for getting out. I hope that's not the case. I do wish him and his family the best of luck. I will pray for this dudes security. 🙏

  • Tipper
    Tipper 16 days ago


  • NPC Marxist non-binary left-wing fascist

    This guy may be decent guy now but i still think me-13 as a whole is an animalistic gang

  • Mikael Larjama
    Mikael Larjama 17 days ago

    Hold up, did he just say Alex Sanchez?

  • Ian D
    Ian D 17 days ago +16

    "I got a degree in criminal justice", that gave me chills. Inspiring.

  • Leogx13
    Leogx13 17 days ago

    Well it's true what they say you can take the cholo out the barrio but you can't take the barrio out the cholo

  • altruistic angel
    altruistic angel 17 days ago

    you got a price on your head ese. once in ms13 it's ms13 for life homes. be seeing ya, ese.