HARLINGEN, Texas (KVEO) — A mentor can change the path of someone’s life.

Here in the Rio Grande Valley, Murray Blackwell is sharing his story of being behind bars in hopes to encourage others to choose a better life.

“I felt like my life was over. I was like dang I got 10 years in prison,” said Murray Blackwell.

He had an tumultuous upbringing here in the RGV.

“I went to the streets as my father and that’s how I followed,” he said.

When he was 17, he was arrested and charged with robbery. A crime he says he didn’t commit.

“I use to pray every night and I told myself I was going to beat this,” he said.

He said he wasn’t knowledgeable about the law at such a young age. He ended up spending a decade behind bar. He said that time wasn’t easy. He spent that time reflecting how to help young kids and choose a better life.

“While I was in there it got me time to think about everything around me my family and what I experienced as a kid and what I’m experience now. It gave me time to think about all that,” he said.

Across the valley, census data showing low percentage of black population. The highest, some counties see a 0.9% of black population. Although a small percentage, Blackwell doesn’t want to see someone go down the wrong path.

“19, 18 years old I was in prison already. I didn’t get to live out here. I didn’t turn 18 out here in the free world I didn’t turn 21 out here in the free world. I didn’t start my 20’s out here in the free world. Y’all got a chance to live something I never lived,” he said.

He’s pushing to show more representation in the valley. Even though 10 years are gone, he’s spending time now inspiring others who may feel left behind.